Apple shuts down pay equity surveys; labor lawyers say illegal

Apple employees have reportedly been conducting surveys asking about returning to the office scenario. It also included topics such as the hybrid work model and pay inequality. The main emphasis of the survey was reportedly on the unequal pay among employees – especially for women and the minorities.

The iPhone maker does not approve of surveys which collect data about employees paychecks. The surveys have been shut down by Apple, stating that the rules of the company do not allow such activities. While the company says that it does not treat employees differently, there appear to be many employees who do not completely believe that.  

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Labor lawyers have sprung to speak out against Apple for not allowing employees to discuss paycheck among themselves. The lawyers argue that employees of a company have the right to discuss their salaries under US law. They also added that the iPhone maker could potentially be breaking laws pertaining to worker protections.

“Apple cannot bar its employees from discussing pay equity as it relates to protected classes,” said Vincent P. White, a labor lawyer with White, Hilferty & Albanese. “If they were, they could tell people not to talk about pronouns. The logical outgrowth of that doesn’t even track. I view their effort to shut this down as an act of retaliation.”

It has been reported that the first survey at Apple about paycheck was created in the spring. It asked employees to submit their salary details voluntarily and also other personal identification details such as race, gender, ethnicity, and disability. However, the company’s human resources team – known as Apple’s people team – had the survey shut down.

“This is like a 2021 version of a foreman on the docks telling people they can’t compare their wages way back in the 1800s,” adds White. “This isn’t new. It’s just the newest version of ‘you can’t talk about your pay.’”