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Apple hit with lawsuit for allegedly underpaying female employees

The class action lawsuit filed in a California state court seeks damages for over 12,000 female Apple employees.

A class action lawsuit filed by two women against Apple seeks damages for 12,000 current and former female employees for allegedly underpaying them. The complaint says the tech giant “systematically” paid them a lower wage than their male employees over a four-year period.

The lawsuit filed in a California state court in San Francisco County on Thursday claims Apple’s systematic behavior of sexual discrimination stems from a policy that set employees’ salaries based on their previous employment, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Prior to fall of 2017, the complaint states that Apple used job applicants’ provided prior pay rates to set their starting salaries. The following year, Apple asked applicants for their pay expectations. The lawsuit alleges that both of these practices led to lower pay rates for women in the workplace. It also claims the latter policy of asking prospective employees for their pay expectations is “highly correlated with prior pay; studies show that persons asked for pay expectations generally provide a number slightly higher than the pay at their current or last job.”

The pay policy for job applicants created a pattern of lower pay for female employees, the lawsuit alleges: “Apple’s policy or practice of collecting information about pay expectations and using that information to set starting salary has had the effect of perpetuating past pay disparities and paying women less than men performing substantially similar work.”

The lawsuit goes even further by suggesting that Apple regularly punishes female employees because of “scored categories” of job performances that drive pay bonuses and increases.

“Apple’s performance evaluation system is biased against women because for scored categories such as teamwork and leadership, men are rewarded and women are penalized for the same behaviors,” the complaint reads.

The class action lawsuit seeks payment for damages and “declaratory relief” as well as repayment of low earnings and benefits due to the alleged discrepancies by Apple. The plaintiffs are also asking the court to hold a jury trial to hear their complaint.

In 2022, reporters for the Financial Times talked with several female Apple employees who alleged they were the victims of sexual abuse and bullying on the job. Then when they filed complaints with human resources, they alleged that their cases were either minimized or ignored, or they received retaliation for filing their complaints.

One of the most jarring examples came from Apple’s former legal department director Jayne Whitt who says a colleague hacked into her devices and issued death threats. She filed a complaint with HR and was assured action would be taken. Whitt claims that Apple’s HR team not only failed to even reprimand the employee but they eventually fired her. She blew the whistle on Apple in an online essay describing the situation that prompted a wave of support and similar stories from other female Apple employees.