“Slack channels are provided for doing business with Apple and are supposed to advance the work, results or mission of Apple departments and teams,” the employee relations officer told the employees.
The company’s rules for the in-office chat app say that “mushy channels for activities and hobbies that are not recognized as Apple employee clubs or Diversity Network Associations (DNAs) are not allowed and must not be created.”
But that rule has not been applied evenly. Currently, Apple employees have popular Slack channels to discuss #fun-dogs (more than 5,000 members), #gaming (more than 3,000 members), and #dad jokes (more than 2,000 members). On August 18, the company approved a channel called #community-foosball. The cat and dog channels are not part of official clubs and all these channels are specifically made to talk about non-work activities.
Labor attorney Vincent P. White says invoking the Slack terms could simply be an excuse to block discussions about wage differentials in the workplace, as doing so would be a direct violation of labor law. “Discussing pay equality is a protected activity under federal, state, and local law,” White says. “Everyone agrees on that. For them, it is clear retaliation to try to compromise employees’ ability to talk about pay equality and diversity in the workplace.”
Salary has been a hot topic among Apple employees in recent months. The company has discontinued multiple employee surveys to collect data on how much employees earn. An investigation, started by Apple engineer Cher Scarlett, seems to be allowed to stay on. An early analysis of the results showed a 6 percent pay gap between the salaries of men and women who participated.
Now organizers want to create a space for employees to discuss pay issues. Although Apple previously said it had no problem with wage equality, employees are suspicious. The company’s recent behavior, including halting wage surveys and now banning a wage stock Slack channel, has only exacerbated those concerns.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The edge.