A former patent attorney at Apple is suing the multinational tech company for discrimination and for failing to protect her from a colleague who allegedly sent her death threats.
Jayna Richardson Whitt, who started working at Apple in 2006, filed her suit at a California state court on Dec. 20. In her complaint, she accuses the tech giant of doing little to address the alleged threats and also unlawfully firing her after she repeatedly raised the matter.
Whitt describes having a “personal relationship” with the colleague in question. Last year, Apple began conducting an internal investigation but concluded it months later without offering any resolution.
The plaintiff says she suffered “extreme domestic abuse” from her colleague, who at one point allegedly sent her a video of himself pointing a gun to his head. She says Apple left her to secure her devices, accounts and Wi-Fi on her own without help from anyone in the company’s global security department.
Whitt, who worked as director of IP transactions before being demoted to principal counsel, also accused Apple of workplace discrimination.
In one example, she describes being sidelined after returning from a leave in 2018.
A reorganization of the in-house legal team that year was allegedly decided without the input of non-white female employees. As a result, it led to the promotions of only white male employees, the complaint says.
Whitt also claims to be an easy target for discrimination as an Asian woman and single parent who experiences “severe anxiety.” Additionally, she describes needing time to care for a parent with Parkinson’s disease.
In April, Whitt published an essay describing Apple’s alleged discrimination and retaliation.
The tech giant then began to investigate her, and by July, her employment was terminated for violations of company policies.
“Though I suspect this essay could bring my career at Apple to an end, I am writing it in the hopes that the company will change,” Whitt wrote in her essay. “If Apple treated me this way — a loyal, high-performing, long-term employee who’d reached the coveted director level — how is it treating others? A pool left with the fiercest sharks who managed to survive creates a hostile environment, is not diverse, does not lead to the best products, and should not be the goal.”
Whitt is seeking unspecified compensation for financial losses and emotional distress.