What’s Up With Apple: Retaliation Investigation, UK Competition Agency Report, and More

The U.S. Department of Labor has confirmed that it is investigating a claim of retaliation by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) against former employee Ashley Gjovik, who was fired in September after filing complaints alleging sexism, a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions and retaliation at the company.

The Labor Department did not identify the person who made the complaint, but the New York Times reported that Gjovik herself said she had made the complaint “to ensure Apple knows they cannot get away with retaliating against me for exercising my federally and state-protected rights.”

According to the Financial Times, which first reported the story, Gjovik’s first complaint in mid-March cited “chemical exposure” related to the location of her office in Sunnyvale, California. The building in which she worked was built on a Superfund site and special monitoring of the site was required. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the agency responsible for probing whistleblower complaints, will investigate the complaint, according to the New York Times.

Gjovik also has alleged a conflict of interest related to Apple board member Ronald Sugar, former CEO of defense contractor Northrop Grumman, the company responsible for monitoring the site.

In the United Kingdom, the country’s Competition and Marketing Authority (CMA) has released an interim report on its investigation into the issue of whether Apple and Google have too much control over their iPhone and Android ecosystems.

In its announcement of the report, Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, noted:

Apple and Google have developed a vice-like grip over how we use mobile phones and we’re concerned that it’s causing millions of people across the UK to lose out.

Most people know that Apple and Google are the main players when it comes to choosing a phone. But it can be easy to forget that they set all the rules too – from determining which apps are available on their app stores, to making it difficult for us to switch to alternative browsers on our phones. This control can limit innovation and choice, and lead to higher prices – none of which is good news for users.

Any intervention must tackle the firms’ substantial market power across the key areas of operating systems, app stores and browsers. We think that the best way to do this is through the Digital Markets Unit when it receives powers from government.

Briefly noted:

Apple has patched the iCloud hole that could have been used by the Log4j exploit that was discovered last week. According to Macworld, the vulnerability was closed on December 11.

A report from analyst Ross Young at Display Supply Chain suggests that a foldable iPhone is not expected until 2023 but that 2024 is a more likely date. Young added this to his list of big stories for 2022.

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