Apple’s wrongful termination case and what other corporates should know – guest post

Case against Apple for wrongful termination


Apple Inc. bombed at convincing a judge to dissolve a wrongful termination claim by Anita Nariani Schulze, Apple’s former company engineer. Schulze filed a case against the firm for the charges of two East Asian male supervisors discriminating against her based on her ethnic Pakistani background.


Judge Sunil R. Kulkarni, California state court in San Joe, conditionally ruled that the woman can go further with her claim of unlawful termination. The judge mentioned that although Schulze resigned from the job voluntarily, she has the right to file for a wrongful termination case because she had to leave the job due to continuous discrimination at their workplace.


Apple faces a setback


This discrimination case is seen as a major setback for Apple’s reputation. The company has also lost an early round in this case. As per the woman, her two managers – one from her own country and another one from Pakistan – used to treat her like a submissive individual.


She also alleges that there is workplace bias in the firm, pointing towards discrimination based on cultural differences of certain workers coming from South Asia.


Even Cisco System Inc. Is fighting a similar kind of case that’s filed against them by a civil rights agency in California, alleging bias against Dalits (India’s lower castes).


Coming back to the case against Apple, Schulze is from the Sindhi minority. She is Hindu by religion with her ancestral roots belonging to the Sidh region that’s presently in Pakistan. According to her complaint, her direct and senior managers (both males) used to purposely keep her out of all meetings while inviting her male colleagues to the same meetings. Besides that, they even criticized her for micromanaging her work. And, also didn’t give her all the bonuses she deserved despite her noteworthy team contributions and good performance.


Schulze further mentioned that the reason for her managers’ behavior stems from racism, sexism, discrimination based on ethnicity, and religious bias. She also stated that the  People of Sindhi Hindu ethnicity is popular for its “technical acumen”. And, due to gender equality in today’s workplaces “provoked the managers’  to show discriminatory behavior towards her.

Even Apple did not respond quickly after the regular business hours to her request for comment.

The Case is – Schulze v. Apple, Inc., 20CV369611, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County (San Jose).


5 things corporates should know about employee termination

Employee termination is not a very simple matter. Although employers have the legal right for dismissing their employees any time they want, managers and HR leaders must be careful about their decision of firing someone.

Before firing an employee, the human resource department should consult a corporate lawyer who has a vast experience in dealing with such cases. It is because they need to ensure that their order for termination doesn’t violate any state or federal laws.

As per some state-exclusive laws and public policy exemptions, at-will employment doesn’t allow employers to just dismiss their employees on a whim. The termination is a straightforward process, but the employer needs to do it properly following the due process and documentation work to avoid themselves from any potential lawsuit.


  1. What can’t I fire an employee for?

Employers cannot fire even their at-will employees for any illegal reasons. And, discrimination is not legal. Employees can file a lawsuit against their firm if they feel they have been terminated wrongfully due to color, race, religion, disability, age, national origin, due to pregnancy, gender, or genetic information.


  1. How do I terminate an employee for poor performance?

Here are the steps to follow for terminating an employee with bad performance:

  • You need to document everything. While it is time-consuming, it is important to document everything related to employees.
  • Review employee’s job descriptions and mention the reason for their termination.
  • Also, follow up with the employee.
  • And, finally terminate the employee with a valid and legal reason


  1. How do I fire (and comply with the due process) an employee?

Here are some simple ways to fire an employee:

  • Do it face to face: You need to fire someone face to face, even though it can be uncomfortable. Never do it over the phone or through email.
  • Be concise and clear: You don’t have to waste time on winging it. How you break them the news is essential. Be sure that the reason for their termination is clear and concise. Also, show them documentation with examples when giving them the reason.


  • Expect emotion, but be firm with yourself: Some workers may take this news in stride, while others may go through various emotions, such as anger, grief, and shock. You need to show empathy but also be firm at the same time without any physical contact.
  • Be honest with them: If there are big layoffs, never leave employees in the dark. Be honest with them and move swiftly.


  1. Can I terminate an employee with mental health issues?

Being an employer, you have to take care of your employees. Not just this, employees with any disabilities are always protected by the country or state laws.  Due to this, termination from a job due to mental health issues may pose a risk to your firm.

Since the law sees mental health issues like disability, it leaves employers liable for discrimination claims. It may come with a major fine with no minimum service period. So, it is best to avoid it at all costs.

If possible you have given them sufficient time, provided them health services, and considered reasonable adjustments. If still, there is no sign of improvement in their work, you can consider a dismissal.


  1. Are terminated employees entitled to a severance package?

Generally, employees who are terminated are not provided any severance package – especially if they are terminated for misconduct. But an employee is terminated wrongfully, he/she can certainly claim their severance package along with the fine for their unlawful dismissal.