Apple Store employees fired for downloading Leopard

Written by Brett Thomas

August 23, 2006 // 5:24 p.m.

Tags: #apple #apple-store #dev-build #leopard

You would think that a big corporate environment like Apple would move slowly to handle small issues in its retail stores. Even things like employee theft are usually managed at a store-by-store level...so it's a surprise to hear what happened to a few retail store employees who were overheard discussing one of the dev builds of Apple's new operating system, Leopard.

Apparently, several retail store workers were overheard talking to each other about the latest build of Leopard, released to developers at the WWDC a couple weeks ago. Their managers got the news to Apple Corporate, who conducted an investigation into the matter. At least five store staffers have since been dismissed, and Apple has mentioned that "dozens" more could be facing similar punishment

Being an employee of Apple comes with some pretty strict controls. It is against company policy to download, posess, or release any software that is not commercially available. When Cupertino suits descended upon the store to question the employees, each one owned up to his or her ownership of a dev copy of Leopard. Afterward, each was dismissed for violating the Apple Retail Employee Terms of Service, as well as the NDA that each signed when hired to work for the store.

One of the employees, speaking to Think Secret anonymously, posed a very interesting question:
"All of us know that we violated our NDA and ethics policy. Therefore, because we had the character to tell the truth and to face the consequences of our actions, we were terminated. My only question is, if we all lied and denied it would we still be working at Apple today? Even more so, is that the kind of person that Apple wants working for them?"

Apple has been known to zealously defend its software, going so far as to track down the three original uploaders in 2004 over the early release of its Tiger OS. In that case, it settled out of court with a few of the defendants for undisclosed amounts.

Do you have a thought on the Apple firings? Let us know about it in our forums. But try not to let Steve-o hear...

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