The Apple Lawsuit Du Jour (11/6/01)

Another day, another lawsuit filed against Apple. At this rate, pretty soon the company's lawyers are going to outnumber its engineers-- a development that may herald extreme changes to the landscape of Apple's entire intramural bowling league. Of course, this latest suit may bring other lesser consequences, as well; for one thing, there's forty million bucks on the line, a sum which comes pretty close to Apple's entire profit last quarter. We know that may seem mighty insignificant next to the prospect of the QuickTime developers finally losing the trophy to the litigation department in next spring's Finals Tournament, but it's important nonetheless.

On the plus side, at least this isn't another lame class action suit; those things are usually so dry, we need a pair of vise grips to squeeze any drama out of them. No, this time around we've got ourselves a juicy little racial discrimination case; faithful viewer Mark Chally notes that an unnamed former Apple employee alleges that he was passed over for promotions and stock options and was even physically isolated from the rest of his department just because he happens to be African American. According to an Xpress Press article, the plaintiff also contends that he was "suspended and then wrongfully terminated for bringing a friend on the Apple campus as a means to motivate him to attend college," whereas his "white counterparts" were able to bring friends to work with impunity. Hence, $40 mil.

Personally, our gut reaction is that we're a bit skeptical. For one thing, issues of race aside, somehow we doubt that in an atmosphere as confidential as Apple's, any employee could bring friends into the building without getting canned. On top of that, we'd be surprised to hear that such discriminatory behavior is actually happening at Apple, in light of the company's reputation for diversity and its demonstrated tolerance in other areas in which prejudice runs rampant. (For instance, Apple has a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign for corporate equality.) Still, that doesn't mean that this guy's particular manager wasn't a racist with "issues." Think of it this way: Apple currently has over 8500 employees. Do you honestly think it's likely that not a single one of those 8500 people just happens to be a big fat jerk?

There seems to be a lot of tension in the Mac community over this issue right now, with some people accusing the plaintiff of "playing the race card" while others lambast Apple for perpetuating the cycle of racism. News flash, people: the trial hasn't started yet. Right now, none of us has enough facts to know whether or not the case has merit. $40 million sounds like a bit much, though; if an Apple manager did act wrongly, the plaintiff deserves his job back, an apology from Apple, and maybe the giddy satisfaction of seeing his old boss clean out his desk. And, of course, if he was fired for a completely legitimate reason (such as an abysmally low bowling average), we hope Apple doesn't have to blow too much on legal fees.

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The above scene was taken from the 11/6/01 episode:

November 6, 2001: Apple gets sued again-- this time for racial discrimination. Meanwhile, reports of prototype Power Mac G5s have the Mac community all a-drool, and half of the states refuse to sign the "Redmond Justice" settlement agreement, thus resulting in the launch of a spin-off show...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3377: Hey, Wake Us In January (11/6/01)   Still reeling from the idea that there are a couple of 2.4 GHz G5 processors floating around out there in Cupertino? Well, come back down to earth, buddy, because even when Apple finally gets Power Mac G5s rolling off the lines, they sure as Steve aren't going to ship at clock speeds even close to that range...

  • 3378: Nine Say Yea, Nine Say Nay (11/6/01)   Sometimes we really love living in Massachusetts. Sure, the taxes may be on the high side, but at least our money gets us an attorney general that won't roll over and play dead like a certain Bush-administration Justice Department we could mention...

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