Apple shareholders seek huge upheaval over employee NDA agreements

Tim Cook
Tim Cook (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple is beset by employee complaints regarding working conditions, pay, and their treatment.
  • A group of shareholders and activists are trying to change that.
  • They want Apple to publish a report into the risks posed by Apple's non-disclosure agreements, stating secrecy could cause problems when employees try to raise issues.

A group of activists and Apple employees have prepared a shareholder resolution, asking that the company investigate the risks posed to employees by its non-disclosure agreements when they try to speak out about their working conditions.

A newly published resolution states:

Shareholders of Apple Inc. ("Apple") ask that the Board of Directors prepare a public report assessing the potential risks to the company associated with its use of concealment clauses in the context of harassment, discrimination and other unlawful acts. The report should be prepared at reasonable cost and omit proprietary and personal information.

In a supporting statement, the group says for Apple employees, these concealment clauses could "limit their ability to discuss unlawful acts in the workplace, including harassment and discrimination."

The group notes that Apple "wisely" uses these to protect intellectual property, trade secrets, and to stop employees leaking info about upcoming products, however, claims that it hasn't excluded issues such as harassment, discrimination, and other unlawful acts. The group says that because of this "investors cannot be confident in their knowledge of Apple's workplace culture."

The group specifically cites the recent #AppleToo movement as cause for concern, especially because of " allegations that the company retaliated against employees complaining of discrimination and potential labor law violations." It notes settlements paid by Pinterest and Alphabet to its employees because of similar issues.

The #AppleToo movement was formed by former and current Apple employees who say they've been subject to harassment, racial discrimination, and more whilst working at Apple. The group received more than 300 reponses after just one day detailing harassment, racism, and discrimination. Apple's annual shareholders' meeting usually takes place in February, where investors and shareholders can vote on proposals like the one posed here.

Apple is just days away from announcing iPhone 13, which is expected to replace the iPhone 12 as the company's best iPhone ever. However, persistent reports of employees unhappy with their treatment at work continue to ail the company. The AppleToo movement has even published an open letter to Tim Cook demanding change.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9