Former Apple employee says 'bizarre' job title practice cost her a job offer

Apple Park photo of the side of the main building
Apple Park photo of the side of the main building (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • A former Apple employee who filed a labor complaint against the company has highlighted another strange company practice.
  • Cher Scarlett says that Apple's 'bizarre' practice of labeling all former employees as "associates" in widely-used databases cost her a job offer with a different company.
  • Apple confirmed that it has done this for years, but won't say why.

A former Apple employee who filed a labor complaint against the company says its bizarre practice of labeling all former employees as "associates" in searchable databases cost her the chance to get a job at a different company.

From The Washington Post:

Inside Apple, your job classification can mean a lot. The difference between a "level 4" engineer and a "level 5," for instance, could mean a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. And those titles help determine how much Apple employees can make when they leave the company for another job. But there's a hitch.In widely used databases that companies refer to for verification of job information, Apple changes the job title for every employee, whether they're a PhD in computer science or a product manager, to "associate," the company confirms.

The report cites employment experts who say the practice is "bizarre if not unique." It says the practice came to light because of Cher Scarlett, a former Apple employee who spoke out publicly against the company and filed a labor complaint against her former employer. Scarlett had applied for a new role with a different company, but found her job offer rescinded because Apple's practice of labeling her (and all other former employees) as an associated delayed the hiring process:

...alleging that when Apple changed her job title to "associate," it delayed the hiring process at a prospective employer by nearly a week, during which time the company rescinded the offer. Scarlett said the job verification service hired to vet her résumé was unable to resolve the discrepancy with Apple.

A spokesman for Apple told The Post Apple had changed the job titles of its former employees to "associate" for years, but wouldn't say when it started this or why:

"We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters"

According to The Post, it spoke to the employment verification service provider used by Apple who stated Apple was the only company he knew of that changes job titles of employees when they leave, and Apple also changes titles for employees who have taken a leave of absence, according to the report. A lawyer for another Apple who has filed a complaint against the company told Apple the practice was "very bad and possibly unlawful" and seemed to interfere with employees' reasonable future economic interests.

Scarlett was one of the leading members of the #AppleToo movement, which started last year to help raise issues of unfair employee treatment and misconduct at Apple. Scarlett told iMore back in August that hundreds of responses to #AppleToo revealed stories of racism, discrimination, and harassment. From our report:

"One of the main things I can report so far is that there's a lot of racism, discrimination, and harassment, and a lot of it is from Retail stores," Cher Scarlett told iMore. Scarlett, one of #AppleToo's founding members and leading voices, says that responses also include complaints from within Apple Corporate, and AppleCare, and stated that responses revealed a "repetitive thread of reporting behavior and having it go nowhere, swept under the rug, or outright dismissed."

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