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Apple’s employees are finding it difficult to survive

“It was Apple,” Jimmy Bailey says simply when asked what killed his best friend Mark Calivas. How else could he explain how the Apple Store wellness champion, who was known for promoting treatment and mental health, fell into such a deep despair that he was forced to seek medical leave and eventually committed suicide? “There was nothing in his life outside of this that caused this,” Bailey explains. “It was a lot of labour.”

Calivas began her career in March 2013 at the Apple Southpoint store in Durham, North Carolina. His coworkers chuckled when he showed up with numerous outfit changes (he went for a six-mile run up the American Tobacco Trail on his lunch break) and nutritious snacks in the morning (he was on the keto diet and carried around two 64oz water bottles). “He was always carrying so many bags,” Bailey recalls.

Calivas was plagued by demons. His mother had died when he was a child, and he’d never met his father. His employment at the Apple Store, on the other hand, kept him grounded. It gave him a sense of worth and significance. The store then hired a new manager, a razor-sharp, data-driven lady. If you were on Bailey’s good side, you could get a favorable schedule, a special project, and a promotion, according to Bailey and another former coworker. However, what if you weren’t? The former coworker claims, “You’d be punished in the most strategic manner possible.”

Mark Calivas, by all accounts, was never on her good side. “She told me she despised him,” the former coworker explains. “She’d always say things like Mark wasn’t good enough, Mark wasn’t special, don’t give him the chance because he hasn’t earned it, even though he had done everything to deserve it.” Calivas’ confidence began to dwindle as he worked under the manager. According to his close pals, he felt trapped – intimidated and tormented by her actions. He took medical leave in 2021 to deal with his depression. According to Bailey and two former coworkers, the manager has been the subject of many HR complaints (Apple would not confirm the complaints). Nothing, though, appeared to change. One of the former colleagues’ claims, “I filed three, maybe four complaints myself.” “I was a member of at least six investigations,” she says. Employees eventually lost optimism that the woman would be held accountable by anyone at Apple’s corporate headquarters.

“We are and have always been firmly committed to building and maintaining a pleasant and inclusive workplace,” Apple spokesperson Nick Leahy said in response to a request for comment from The Verge. We take all complaints seriously and investigate completely whenever one is expressed; nevertheless, we do not disclose specific personnel situations out of respect for the privacy of anyone affected.”

The story highlights a possibly widespread issue among Apple’s frontline employees. Many people feel they have no one to turn to for help when anything goes wrong at work – a nasty boss, a delayed paycheck, an unmanageable amount of work. “Corporate makes decisions based on what they think would work in the stores without talking to store employees,” a former coworker claims. Some employees in Cupertino have complained that Apple’s employee relations team — the business’s version of human resources — is more concerned with safeguarding the company than its staff.

Apple’s hourly workers have been watching as corporate employees lobby for increased pay transparency for the past five months. Some employees in Cupertino have banded together under the hashtag #AppleToo to demand better working conditions. Others are only now speaking up, realizing that the problems their well-paid corporate colleagues are facing could be considerably worsened on the front lines.

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