Apple employees have been conducting surveys within the company about their colleagues’ thoughts on hybrid return-to-work, and also pay equity. However, according to inside sources, the Cupertino tech giant is forbidding employees from taking part in internal surveys – which labor lawyers say is illegal.
Apple reportedly shut down three internal employee surveys
As reported by The Verge, despite the Cupertino tech giant saying it does not have a problem with pay inequality, it is reportedly shutting down internal surveys regarding the matter. As per the report, the tech giant has shut down at least three internal surveys of employees.
The first survey, which began in spring, asked employees to volunteer salary information in addition to how they identify in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and disability. After 100 responses, the tech giant’s human resources team asked the employees to stop the survey saying the demographic questions constituted personally identifying information. The team subsequently sent employees the following message on “prohibited surveys”:
The following employee surveys are prohibited in all cases and may not be conducted.
Surveys as Data Collection
Surveys are not permitted to be used as a means of collecting identifiable employee data without following the usual process to obtain this data from the People team. This includes any questions about an employee’s address, demographics, and so on, except for collecting country or region, which is permitted.
Using surveys as a tool to collect health information — including but not limited to health reports, testing results, and vaccination status — is also prohibited.
All requests for identifiable employee data must be submitted to the People team via the People Report Request Form. If approved, the People team will provide the employee data directly from their systems.
Surveys Requesting Diversity Data
Diversity data is highly sensitive personal data. If you have a need for such information, you must work with your I&D Business Partner and the I&D Insights and Solutions team before collecting any data.
According to multiple labor lawyers, Apple may be violating worker protection laws as the surveys can be considered a form of labor organizing – which employees have the right to do under US law. As described by Veena Dubal, a law professor at UC Hastings:
“Those rules may themselves violate the protected right to concerted activity — while [Apple] might point to these handbook type rules that you’ve agreed to not do this as a condition of employment, that doesn’t mean they can legally prevent employees from doing what they’re doing,”
At the same time, Apple employees are still struggling to convince the senior management to revise its new hybrid remote work policy. The rift between employees fighting for remote work and Apple’s senior management is getting contentious. On one hand, employees are threatening to leave the company, on the other, employees with disabilities are worried about losing their accommodation and being out of work in September.