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Apple won't make NDA exceptions for workplace harassment cases

Credit: Laurenz Heymann/Unsplash

A group of Apple shareholders is pressuring the company to exempt harassment and discrimination from employee nondisclosure agreements — and the company is refusing the demands.

Earlier in September, a group representing Apple shareholders passed a resolution pressuring the company to make changes to its employment and non-disclosure agreements. Specifically, the group, which put forth a shareholder resolution Friday, wants Apple to make cases of workplace harassment and discrimination exceptions to the NDAs.

"Apple wisely uses concealment clauses in employment agreements to protect corporate information, such as intellectual capital and trade secrets," reads a proposal submitted to the Board of Directors. "However, Apple has not excluded from these clauses their workers' rights to speak openly about harassment, discrimination and other unlawful acts."

The proposal comes after the shareholder group asked Apple to except harassment and discrimination from its NDAs. The group told The Verge that Apple's lawyers refused the change, stating that the exceptions were already covered in Apple's Business Conduct Policy.

In recent months, some Apple employees have pointed out how the company's secrecy culture makes it difficult to discuss working conditions or wages at the Cupertino tech giant.

The proposal states that concealment clauses — employment agreements that contain arbitration, nondisclosure, or non-disparagement elements — are bad for the company's business because they don't allow shareholders to be confident in their knowledge of Apple's workplace.

"Investors have reason to be concerned with Apple, where allegations that the company retaliated against employees complaining of discrimination and potential labor law violations have led workers to organize under the banner #AppleToo," the group said.

Nia Impact Capital owns 38,921.34 shares of Apple, worth about $6 billion.

If Apple doesn't make the change voluntarily, then the resolution may go to a vote at the next shareholder meeting.