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Apple whistleblower movement torn apart over harassment allegations

Two former Apple employees who made headlines last year for spearheading a whistleblowing movement against the company have since been embroiled in a bizarre legal battle accusing each other of harassment and stalking.

Cher Scarlett and Ashley Gjøvik co-founded a whistleblower campaign called #AppleToo, which published dramatic stories about gender and racial discrimination, sexual harassment and other ills by employees of the famously secretive tech giant this past summer and fall.

Most of the hundreds of Apple employees who have shared stories about #AppleToo have been anonymous. But Scarlett and Gjøvik, then employees of Apple, both made the risky decision to speak publicly.

Scarlett mainly focused on pay equity, remote working and transparency issues at Apple, while Gjøvik spoke about health concerns surrounding the construction of an Apple office on a Superfund website, as well as Apple’s privacy policies. Both women also said they had been harassed at work.

Cher Scarlett
#AppleToo co-founder Cher Scarlett

As some of the only faces associated with the campaign, Scarlett and Gjøvik built a sizable online following and were reported by media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times, calling #AppleToo the Prime examples of “employee unrest” at Apple called it “would have been unthinkable a few years ago.”

But behind the scenes, and eventually in public, Scarlett and Gjøvik had a falling out that involved allegations of stalking, leaking confidential information, and even secretly working for Apple. The dispute culminated in Gjøvik calling Scarlett a “wicked witch” and Scarlett receiving a restraining order against Gjøvik, court documents show.

“It’s unfortunate that small disagreements turned into full-scale annoyances and that the other party just didn’t take the time to try to work them out or just move on and be an adult,” Scarlett told the Post. “To me there is no reason why this should have happened and we should all focus on holding companies accountable rather than tearing each other down.”

Gjøvik told The Post that the court order left her “legally ineligible” to speak out about Scarlett’s allegations until 2027, but said she remains committed to fighting Apple for justice.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

leak allegations

Shortly after #AppleToo was formed last summer, Gjøvik had a series of disagreements with Scarlett and other members of the group. Some felt that Gjøvik was trying to use their stories to bolster their own case against Apple, rather than backing “collective action,” according to Scarlett’s court testimony seen by The Post. Gjøvik then left the group.

In September, Apple fired Gjøvik for allegedly leaking intellectual property to a reporter – an accusation Gjøvik denied, appealing through complaints to the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor.

However, Scarlett claims in court documents that prior to Gjøvik’s termination, Gjøvik had privately admitted to leaking information to a reporter from The Verge for a Story about Apple collecting personal information on their own employees when testing products like Face ID.

When Gjøvik accused Apple of wrongfully firing her, Scarlett called Gjøvik blind via a corporate message board post and wrote that it would be difficult for Gjøvik to argue that she was wrongly fired since they are indeed leaking intellectual property let.

Apple attorneys then cited Scarlett in their legal defense against Gjøvik’s labor lawsuits, according to Gjøvik, prompting Gjøvik to write on Twitter that her former employee was “a defense witness for Apple against me.”

“She is in active communication and helping Apple in their campaign of harassment, threats and horror against their security whistleblower,” Gjøvik claimed.

Scarlett later apologized to Gjøvik for posting about her on Blind, but claims that she had never worked with Apple as a defense witness and did not intend to be quoted in Apple’s defense.

‘blacklist’

The same month that Gjøvik was fired from Apple, Scarlett resigned from the company after being harassed online by colleagues and strangers in response to her activism, including another blind user who “doxxed” her by giving her contact information published and previous name, which it had changed years ago for security reasons.

Scarlett returned to Apple in November but said many of her colleagues still embraced the company’s culture of “self-regulation” and shunned it because they didn’t support speaking out against the company. She negotiated a settlement with Apple and left the company this month.

“I felt like it wasn’t getting any better,” Scarlett said slate back then. “I had a feeling it was going to get worse. I was confronted with an immobile force.”

As Scarlett and #AppleToo’s clashes with Apple received more media coverage, Scarlett claims that Gjøvik became jealous because her whistleblower claims received less attention.

“She was on her way to getting a lot of media attention, but outlets struggled to corroborate her story, which kept changing over time,” Scarlett testified in court in King County, Washington. “I was profiled in the Washington Post and the Seattle Times, and she was getting more and more excited.”

Gjøvik claimed that the real reason she stopped getting press coverage was because Scarlett had secretly “blacklisted” her by telling reporters not to speak to her.

Ashley Gjovik
Ashley Gjøvik was fired from Apple in September after the company accused her of disclosing intellectual property.
Linkedin/Ashley Gjovik

overdose

In December, Scarlett a blog entry beating up “a few” unnamed women for molesting them, including editing their Wikipedia page and posting about them online.

“They’ve noticed that I’ve offended them all in some way, and probably funniest of all, have a twisted notion that I control the press,” Scarlett wrote in what appeared to be a thinly veiled dig at Gjøvik.

Gjøvik reversed the script and claimed that Scarlett actually edited Gjøvik’s Wikipedia page through anonymous accounts.

Scarlett, a recovering addict, wrote that the harassment — coupled with her run-ins with Apple — was so distressing that she relapsed. She said she took a pill that she said looked like Percocet but actually contained fentanyl, which “put her into cardiac arrest almost immediately.”

“I’m alive after two doses of Narcan, 8 minutes of CPR and a shock from the defibrillator in my chest,” Scarlett wrote, asking for donations to a GoFundMe fundraiser for legal and medical expenses.

Apple
The #AppleToo movement accused Apple of overlooking gender and racial discrimination, sexual harassment and other abuses.
REUTERS

Interim disposal

Weeks after Scarlett’s overdose, Gjøvik released a series of tweets calling Scarlett a “psycho” and a “wicked witch,” according to screenshots Scarlett included in court filings. Gjøvik also accused Scarlett of being secretly paid by Apple to try to stage a “harassment and defamation campaign” to “try to get me to give up/kill myself,” as the screenshots show.

That same month, Scarlett reported Gjøvik to the FBI’s Cybercrime Unit, according to her court testimony.

Then, in early February, Gjøvik published a “proof report” about Scarlett online. It included excerpts from Scarlett’s online posts, as well as what Scarlett said, personal information about her husband, child and other family members.

In response, Scarlett filed a request for a temporary restraining order in a Washington state court.

“MS. Gjøvik has one goal: to publicly destroy me,” Scarlett testified. “Please help me to free myself from fear for my well-being and the safety of me, my child and the rest of my family.”

In a lawsuit, Gjøvik again claimed that Scarlett was in fact the one who “consistently attempted to harm, harass, defame, intimidate and coerce her”. Scarlett’s request for a restraining order was another example of her harassment, according to Gjøvik.

But on March 1, a King County judge sided with Scarlett and imposed a five-year restraining order on Gjøvik. Among other things, it prohibits Gjøvik from speaking publicly about Scarlett and from approaching her within 300 meters.

Gjøvik has filed an appeal that is scheduled to be heard in the Washington State Supreme Court this August.

“My attorney and I have already appealed that this order violated my First Amendment Rights and that the Washington state court did not have jurisdiction to issue such an order against an out-of-state defendant,” Gjøvik told The Post.

“I received notification that Ashley is appealing the court case,” Scarlett said. “I don’t think another judge will find that there was an error in this process.”

“I would have preferred none of this to become a media subject,” she added.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/03/apple-whistleblower-movement-torn-over-harassment-allegations/ Apple whistleblower movement torn apart over harassment allegations

DUSTIN JONES

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