Apple wage fixing plaintiff accuses execs of hypocrisy over discriminatory labor policy


techtopusCritics — including Pando — have used various words to describe Apple’s now-overturned ban of employing accused felons from construction work on their new campus. Words like discriminatory and illegal.

Now we can add one more word: Hypocritical. At least according to Michael Devine, one of the plaintiffs in the landmark wage-fixing lawsuit against Big Tech firms like Apple, Google, Intel and Intuit.

Speaking to Pando yesterday, Devine argued that Apple’s ban on hiring suspected felons is at the very least ironic given the suit brought by him and his fellow plaintiffs “revealed clear and ample evidence that multiple current and former Apple executives committed felonies in their conspiracy to suppress competition for tech talent.”

Devine has long been outspoken in his criticism of Apple. He was one of the major dissenting voices over the  original settlement figure; it was thanks to Devine’s dissent that the companies had to come back with a higher offer, adding $ 90 million to the final settlement, which now stands at $ 415 million. Devine’s class action wage-theft lawsuit against the Big Tech firms grew out of a Department of Justice antitrust division investigation into the Techtopus — the Big Tech and Hollywood firms’ wage-fixing conspiracy in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, which can carry both civil and criminal penalties. Ultimately the DOJ settled with the firms, paving the way for what turned out to be the first ever successful wage-theft class action lawsuit under the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Apple announced at the end of last week that it had rescinded its hiring ban on felons and those with pending felony charges, which as we reported was not only horrible policy but also quite possibly illegal and in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, according to legal experts and sources in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission I spoke to last week.

Here’s what Devine told me yesterday:

I was especially outraged at the hypocrisy of Apple’s discrimination against convicted felons given that we revealed clear and ample evidence that multiple current and former Apple executives committed felonies in their conspiracy to suppress competition for tech talent.

Devine is not the only one outraged. Yesterday we reported that the former head of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, is publicly calling on Apple to both redress all the workers unfairly harmed by Apple’s hiring ban, and to take the lead in ending employment discrimination against the tens of millions of Americans with criminal records.



Facebook: No, we don’t have the same discriminatory labor policy as Apple


Over the weekend I wrote about Apple’s reported policy of banning not just convicted felons but also those charged but not convicted of felonies from doing construction work on their new campus.

In a follow up yesterday, I published letters from the Ironworkers Local Union 377 to Apple CEO Tim Cook and California Attorney General Kamala Harris. The letters argue that:

Apple’s prohibition against employment of former felons or those with a pending felony charge does not just fail to address inequality, then, but amplifies it. It is, moreover, an evil precedent.

As tends to happen when news breaks that puts Apple in a bad light, it wasn’t long until pro-Apple bloggers and tweeters began trying to rubbish both my reporting and that of the San Francisco Chronicle which originally broke the story. Chief amongst the rubbishers was Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber who first tried to argue that I’d “Pando’d the hell out of” the story by pointing out how many Americans have criminal records that would show up on background checks.

Ames either doesn’t know what a felony is, or he does know and is deliberately misleading Pando readers by citing an unrelated statistic… Most crimes are not felonies. It’s pure bullshit to imply that 30 percent of Americans are banned from construction jobs at Apple’s new campus.

Putting aside that I didn’t imply anything of the sort, Gruber then goes on to insist that the real number of people who would be blanket banned from returning to the workforce, if Apple had its way, is only “1 in 8 of working age men.” Because, presumably, that would be a far more acceptable number. Gruber also neglects to note that the 1 in 8 number is itself misleading because Apple’s ban disproportionately affects African-Americans; a recent Princeton study revealed that over one in four African-American adults has a felony record, as opposed to 6% of the non-African-American adult population.

Banning over one-quarter of all African-American adults from working construction jobs at Apple’s new space-age campus is apparently no biggie! No wonder so many Americans are learning to loathe callous, privileged “tech bro” culture.

It gets worse: Gruber also initially ignored the fact that Apple’s ban did not include those charged but not convicted of felonies — and suggested that the Chronicle had been wrong to claim otherwise.

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Unfortunately for Gruber, and his fellow fanboys in the Apple veal pen, the letter sent to Tim Cook included documentary proof of Apple’s own policy:

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Asked multiple times by Pando’s Paul Carr whether his misinformation had come directly from Apple, Gruber did not respond.

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Today, faced with proof of Apple’s policy, Gruber shifted his strategy, suggesting that—horrible as Apple’s rules might be —maybe they’re not that unusual:

Here’s my question that the Chronicle has not addressed: do other companies of similar stature to Apple — Google, Intel, Facebook, etc. — have similar hiring policies for construction work?

That’s a great question. Now if only there was a way to get an answer rather than just rehashing Apple talking points like a cheap company flak, and planting seeds of doubt through rhetorical questions.

Oh wait! There is! It’s called journalism. Or as we call it here “Pandoing the hell out of the story.”

I reached out to the companies Gruber named. Facebook was the first to get back to me, telling me in no uncertain terms, “No, Facebook does not have a policy that bans construction contractors from hiring ex-felons or people charged with felonies.”

I still have calls in with Google and Intel and will update this story when I hear back.