Apple employee was ‘wrongfully’ fired for taking secret photos of colleague, judge rules

The Apple logo outside the Apple Store in London.
Photo: Jack Taylor (Getty photos)

Apple’s anti-harassment policy comes under fire from UK judges.

This week, a British employment tribunal judge ruled that Apple wrongly fired analyst at its London headquartersChristoph Sieberer, for taking secret photos of a female coworker, The Telegraph reports. A judge found that Apple’s harassment policy was “vague” and that there was “no reasonable basis” for firing Sieberer.

Just a few weeks earlier, in late June, another British judge found that Apple was unfairly dismissed other employee — this time for racist comments. The judge found that because Apple did not have a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination and harassment at the time, the tech giant had no basis to fire the offender, Timothy Jefferies, who worked at one of the company’s London stores.

According to court documents reviewed by Bloomberg, the employee fired for making racist comments, Timothy Jefferies, was saying goodbye to a co-worker when he turned to the Chinese co-worker and said, “Until you unleash another deadly disease on the world.”

While the judges suggested the tech giant needed to make its policies clearer before firing employees for violating them, they appeared to side with the workers who were fired.

“In this case, there was ample evidence that there was a culture within the repair shop in which foul language was used and jokes were made that could be considered inappropriate, whether they related to race or other sensitive issues,” the judge said in his ruling in the Jefferies case.

Apple is working to combat discrimination and harassment in recent years after has been criticized for failing to address such issues. Apple also began allowing employees to speak freely about cases of discrimination and harassment in 2022 that were previously prohibited under data protection clauses in employment contracts.