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Apple fires employee who raised awareness of workplace misconduct allegations at the company

Janneke Parrish believes she was fired in retaliation for criticizing working conditions at the company.

Tim Cook of Apple testifies remotely before the House Judiciary Committee as seen via YouTube on a laptop in Washington on July 29. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

Apple fired an employee Thursday who was critical of the company’s handling of workplace misconduct allegations.

Janneke Parrish, a product manager on Apple Maps who is based in Texas, was involved in #AppleToo, a movement aimed at improving working conditions at the company, particularly for traditionally underrepresented groups. Parrish has been running the #AppleToo digest, a collection of anonymous stories from Apple employees who offered personal stories alleging discrimination and other labor violations at the company.

Parrish said in an interview with The Washington Post that she was under investigation by Apple’s global security division, which told her she was suspected of leaking details about Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Sept. 18 virtual Town Hall meeting, where he addressed allegations of workplace misconduct at the company in front of all employees.

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Parrish denies leaking confidential information about the company. She alleges she was fired in retaliation for her involvement in #AppleToo.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. News of Parrish’s firing was first reported by The Verge.

Parrish’s firing came just hours after she was quoted in an article in The Post about Cher Scarlett, who helped found #AppleToo. In the article, Parrish expressed support for Scarlett, who is on medical leave from the company.

In recent years, a growing chorus of tech workers — many of them women — have challenged the power centers of Silicon Valley. Discrimination against women and racial minorities at tech giants continues to make headlines.

Amazon recently settled a wrongful termination suit against two women it fired after they publicly criticized the company’s climate policies. More than 20,000 Google employees staged a walkout to protest sexual misconduct and inequality in 2018, while Black women at Pinterest accused the company of discrimination and retaliation. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

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Frances Haugen, who worked at Facebook, has recently come forward as the most high-profile of these whistleblowers. She testified last week in front of Congress that Facebook misled the public about the harm caused by its products.

Most tech employees still fear speaking about the companies they work for. Apple CEO Cook, in the wake of employees speaking out about working conditions, sent a companywide memo about the company’s efforts to ferret out leakers.

The #AppleToo movement has resulted in largely anonymous testimonials from more than 500 employees — many working at Apple’s more than 500 global retail stores — accusing the company of erecting “an opaque, intimidating fortress” that tolerates “racism, sexism, discrimination, retaliation, bullying, sexual and other forms of harassment.”