Apple turned against customers and its own employees after the death of co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, a former Apple engineer claims in a lawsuit.
“No corporate responsibility exists at Apple since Mr. Jobs’ death,” Darren Eastman alleged in a lawsuit over his termination and patents related to his work at the Cupertino tech giant.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Eastman started working as an engineer for Apple in 2006, largely because Jobs was interested in his idea for a low-cost Mac for education, and wanted him hired straight out of graduate school, Eastman said in the filing. Eastman claims to have invented the “Find my iPhone” function.
When Jobs headed Apple, he told Eastman to notify him of any unresolved problems with the company’s products, and employees in general were expected to raise such concerns, Eastman said in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
That changed after Jobs died in 2011, he claimed.
“Many talented employees who’ve given part of their life for Apple were now regularly being disciplined and terminated for reporting issues they were expected to (report) during Mr. Jobs tenure,” Eastman alleged in the filing.
“Cronyism and a dedicated effort to ignore quality issues in current and future products became the most important projects to perpetuate the goal of ignoring the law and minimizing tax.
“Complying with the law and paying what’s honestly required is taboo at Apple, with judicial orders and paying tax (of any kind) representing the principal frustration of Apple’s executives.”
Under the leadership of new CEO Tim Cook, the response to workers raising concerns is dramatically different from what occurred under Jobs, Eastman alleged.
“Notifying Mr. Cook about issues (previously welcomed by Mr. Jobs) produces either no response, or, a threatening one later by your direct manager,” Eastman claimed.
“There’s no accountability, with attempts at doing the right thing met with swift retaliation.”
In 2014, a manager was fired after “suggesting in a large meeting that a proposed project would cost millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of hours of labor without any success,” Eastman alleged.
That fired manager’s daughter, an Apple employee, was terminated soon after, for reporting toxic mold in the building where she worked, Eastman claimed.
“Despite contractors confirming the building could never be rid of mold, Apple signed a new multiyear lease, and, encouraged staff to return to the office after simply repainting,” he claimed.
In sacking workers, timing was very important to Apple, Eastman claimed, alleging a “disturbing practice” of illegally firing employees just before the end of the company’s fiscal calendar.
“This means that compensation due for the current (year’s) work (including stock which may have taken multiple years to vest) is not granted,” claimed Eastman, whose filing said he was terminated in 2014.
“The stock can then be reallocated to other employees and becomes an added bonus for managers to terminate experienced staff — this keeps both salary and tax costs minimized.”
Engineers “started to disappear suddenly” when stock options were due or when a performance review was expected to trigger large bonuses or raises, Eastman claimed.
“Apple evolved from an honest company into a rampant and regular abuser of contract, discrimination and employment law,” Eastman claimed, “in addition to regularly acting without good faith in business dealings.”
He claimed he’s been forced to represent himself in the case because Apple made sure he depleted his funds for legal representation.
“Even when Apple is presented with litigation, it files ridiculous motions which regularly challenge the rule of law and disrespect both the judiciary and due process,” Eastman alleged.
With Apple management focused on “eliminating quality assurance and engineering positions,” employees became tied up dealing with litigation, “often for embarrassing and simple causes which never had previously happened at Apple,” Eastman alleged.
“Updates for every product are often untested, causing more significant issues than those they resolved — sometimes rendering applications or basic functionality to be completely unusable until another update fixes the regression,” he claimed.
He was regularly assigned to help customers who wrote to company executives after being ignored by Apple, he claimed.
He would diagnose the problem at hand and come up with a solution, but his fixes never became updates, Eastman alleged. Customers he’d dealt with ended up suing Apple, he claimed.
“The executive team’s main focus,” Eastman claimed, “is eliminating tax liability and bad PR being disseminated about Apple.”