Cher Scarlett, a former Apple Inc. software engineer and prominent labor activist, finds herself grappling with employment challenges two years after leaving Apple. Despite initial optimism, her job prospects, including an interview with Mozilla Corp., have not materialized. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has recently filed a complaint against Mozilla, alleging that Scarlett’s labor activism history influenced their hiring decision. This case underscores the fears prevalent among tech workers about the repercussions of activism.
Scarlett’s role in mobilizing Apple employees and supporting unionization efforts, along with a pending charge against Apple, reflect her significant contributions to workplace activism. Federal labor law protects workers from retaliation for such activities, yet the rarity of NLRB accusations against major tech companies for hiring discrimination highlights the difficulty in prosecuting these cases. They often rely on circumstantial evidence, and companies may go to lengths to mask discriminatory practices.
This situation is part of a broader trend in the tech industry, where worker activism is on the rise but often comes at a personal cost. Many tech whistleblowers struggle to secure employment post-activism, leading some to change careers entirely. The NLRB’s action in Scarlett’s case, while lacking the power to impose punitive damages or personal liability, is seen as a significant step towards challenging the implicit ’blacklisting’ in Silicon Valley. Success in this high-profile case could empower more workers to speak out, but a failure might further stifle workplace activism.