HomeAsian AmericansFormer Apple lawyer sues company for discrimination

Former Apple lawyer sues company for discrimination

A former patent lawyer for Apple filed a lawsuit against the company for discrimination and harassment from a male colleague who sent her death threats. 

Jayna Richardson Whitt, who started working at Apple in 2006, filed a complaint in a California state court, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. In the suit, Whitt alleged that the company demoted and fired her after learning of her “domestic abuse victim status.” 

Whitt alleged that she experienced “extreme domestic abuse” from a male colleague, including a video of him pointing a gun to his head. When she reported them to Apple, the company conducted an internal investigation in 2021 but concluded it without any reparations and did not assist Whitt in personal security, Insider reported

“Defendants left plaintiff defenseless, struggling in desperation to try to secure her devices, accounts, Wi-Fi, and her family’s physical safety, without any assistance from anyone in Global Security, even after her manager told her that she was ‘escalating’ to try again to get the company to help her,” Whitt’s complaint said. 

Whitt also accused the tech giant of discriminatory practices, citing her status as an Asian woman and single parent. 

Whitt published an essay on Lioness in April outlining the allegations after 15 years with the company, noting an experience where she took a leave of absence and was sidelined upon returning. In July, Apple launched an investigation into her conduct and terminated her employment, stating that she violated Apple policies according to her complaint, Bloomberg reported.

“Shortly after I returned, my trusted, long-time, White male manager promoted my white male colleague without ever telling me of the opportunity—calling it ‘successful succession planning,’” Whitt said in her essay. “I ended up transitioning to work part-time, remotely. The following year, I was demoted, and some of my already-granted stock was taken back over my objections.”

In the complaint, the former lawyer reported that a White male supervisor “favored Caucasian males and subjected minorities, females, and employees with disabilities to discriminatory treatment” according to her complaint, Bloomberg reported. 

Whitt also referenced a broader culture of discrimination at Apple, according to Insider. Her complaint stated a “discriminatory animus against non-Caucasian and female employees,” where in 2018, the reorganization of the in-house legal team was decided without the input of female and non-white employees, according to Insider. 

“I would like to see an Apple where a dedicated employee who needs to work part-time is not demoted and stigmatized, where a person suffering from domestic abuse is not shamed and punished, and where empathy is practiced, not just preached,” Whitt said in her essay.

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