Bryan Hoss's LinkedIn profile showing he left the EEOC to work at Apple

Apple hired my EEOC investigator

For Women's History Month 2024, I made a series of daily one-minute reels on Instagram about my equal pay fight. You can find them collected in my WHM 2024 highlight, and the transcript below.


It's Women’s History Month! Which typically means companies doing a lot of performative pink washing to divert attention from the ways that they continue to harm the populations they publicly appear to support.

So what do I mean. Well, this can look like Employee Resource Groups holding events to “inspire” or “empower” women employees, or initiatives to “mentor” them, while doing little or nothing to change the workplace norms, power structures, and outdated attitudes among managers and colleagues who truly need to make changes to get with the times.

So this year I thought I would share some ACTUAL history. It’s pretty recent history, between 2018 and 2020. It’s the true story of why I no longer work as a software engineer at Apple.

I’m going to keep it short and sweet, so look for a new one-minute video in my stories every day this month. I’ll also save them to a highlight on my profile, so you can go back and watch the whole collection.


Today let’s talk about constructive discharge. This is when your employer’s conduct forces you to resign, as in they make it so intolerable for you to be there that you have no choice but to leave. You might also hear people refer to it as “constructive termination” or “constructive dismissal.” It’s all the same.

So what were the conditions at Apple that made it so intolerable that I had to leave? In a word, discrimination. Specifically, gender-based pay discrimination. I learned that I was being paid less than every male peer that I asked who was doing the same job. Not only that, but I had less access to remote work and meaty projects. And when I asked my boss to fix it, and his boss, and his boss (yes all of them men), they refused.

How did I learn that I was being underpaid? Did I go into my job at Apple thinking that was the case? Not at all! So tomorrow I’ll tell you about the conversation that started to make me wonder.


I want to tell you about the time a coworker asked me my salary. That’s right, he asked me.

He was contracting for the team at the time, and had just received an offer to join as an employee, and he wanted to know if his offer was fair.

So after work one evening we went to a local taco place and I shared my numbers. 130,000 in base pay, with 110,000 in RSUs (vesting over four years—I would never receive most of these). His offer was 155,000 in base pay, with almost 130,000 in RSUs.

And he got to work fully remotely, from his house with a pool that he owned in a state with a cheaper cost of living.

As I drove home that evening, there was one question I knew I had to look for the answer to. Was this a fluke? Or was everyone else making more than me?


So I started inviting my coworkers on 1:1 walking meetings to talk about compensation. And what I learned on these walks around Cupertino was pretty awful.

I talked to eight men doing my job, and every single one of them made more. The closest made $10k a year more than me in base pay. But it quickly went up from there, some making as much as $75k more in base pay. They also got larger RSU grants and project-based or annual bonuses.

Our gender ratio on the team was roughly 1 woman to every 6 men, so there were fewer women to talk to, but I did talk also to three women. Only one of whom made more than me, and she didn’t tell me her number but said it was in the low range of what I told her the men were making. A second made the same as me, and the third was too embarrassed to tell me her number because it was under six figures. She had multiple graduate degrees, which the men on the team did not.

OK so after gathering all this info, it was pretty clear to me that pay was not equitable on my team. So next time I’ll tell you what I did to try to fix it.


Over the coming days I’ll tell you about five different levels of dudes I asked internally at Apple to help me correct the pay discrimination I’d uncovered.

First, of course, my manager. I spent far too many meetings with him trying to explain why it wasn’t cool for the company to pay me less for the same work.

He couldn’t seem to imagine my pay going up without me knocking some project out of the park. He said that if he was going to approach Craig (the SVP of software engineering) about a ”raise,” he’d need to have a performance story to back it up. In other words, he wasn’t going to bat for me.

When I realized this was going nowhere, I told him I needed to escalate, and if he wasn’t willing to bring the issue to his boss, I would. And he said, go ahead. So I did, and I’ll share how that went tomorrow.


After months of my manager failing to take action to correct my pay, I met with his boss—my skip-level—to bring up my triad of concerns around pay, project assignments, and remote work.

He said some weird stuff like "maybe we can consider your commute part of what you give to Apple"... as if that was somehow gonna help with my advancement at the company?

Then he said, "I don’t really know what’s possible, let’s check with the People team." Now, the People team is Apple speak for HR. I probably don’t need to tell you that HR is there to protect the company, not the employees.

Two weeks after this meeting I still hadn’t heard from them, and we’ll circle back later to how delaying is a tactic companies to run out the statute of limitations on fair pay claims.

Anyway, tomorrow I’ll introduce you to Sonny from HR.


My HR contact was named Sonny.

Sonny insisted on meeting with me in person in his office at Apple Park, so there was little in the way of a paper trail.

At our first meeting, he asked me which coworkers I’d talked to. I did not say.

He then told me Apple would do an internal “investigation”—a.k.a. decide for themselves what was going on with no objective oversight. This “investigation” took two months.

While I waited, we had our department holiday party, where I did not feel at all jolly, while Sonny performed karaoke of “Where’s the Love.” Great question, Sonny.

Finally, he scheduled another meeting to announce that the “investigation” had ended, that I was making the right amount for my pay grade, and that I’d be getting a “$0 adjustment.”

I took the rest of the day off sick, and drove back to San Francisco through tears, trying to figure out if there was any path left to set this right.


There’s no way that my director didn’t know about the investigation, I’m sure he was directly involved in it. But he played very dumb when I requested to meet with him about that “$0 adjustment.”

I proposed an hour-long meeting to discuss my concerns, but he shortened it from one hour to one-half hour before accepting the invitation. I wrote back requesting a full hour to talk, and he said he would need to know more specifically what my concerns were before he could agree.

Can you imagine broadcasting to a minority employee wanting to discuss discrimination concerns that she doesn’t deserve an amount of your time that is shorter than her commute?

In the meeting, I asked point blank why he was paying me less. He told me that I was “less technical than [my] peers.” Now, I know that’s utter BS. But I also knew there was no arguing with someone abusing their power over me. I was done.

So I just asked what his expectations were about giving notice, and he said, two weeks would be enough.

Now if you’re like, Kate, aren’t there DEI initiatives at Apple? Couldn’t they help? We’ll laugh at that together tomorrow.


The last place I looked for help at Apple was from the Diversity and Inclusion staff.

Back in my very first month at the company, I had written an email to Tim Cook, and he had replied, connecting me with the Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity, Christie Smith. So I’d had a phone call with her early on.

I reached out to her again when Apple refused my request for fair pay. However this time she didn’t offer to pick up the phone. Instead, my question was delegated to the diversity officer of the Software Engineering Operations group where I worked. He and I did talk, but as you can guess, he offered absolutely no options.

So, it was up to me to get myself out of harm’s way.


The weekend before I quit, my boss suggested I take work home with me. It was dizzying. Like, you won’t let me stop commuting on weekdays, but remote *is* acceptable as “extra credit”? Like, what?

My partner Richard saw me cry every day. Finally, over a meal at a favorite restaurant that I couldn’t enjoy because I was so distressed, Richard held my hand and said, sweetie, we need to get you out of there.

I’d spent four years building back my career after a financially abusive relationship. I wanted to earn an income. And the idea of becoming dependent on Richard was terrifying.
But what other choice did I have?

We talked it through. I would leave my separate emergency fund untouched, so that I would not be trapped if our relationship changed.

And with that safety net in place, it was time to submit my resignation.


From my resignation letter, you would never know that the company was breaking laws and putting me through hell.

In writing it, I followed the practices I understood to be “professional.” I named my last day, listed my accomplishments, said I’d take my valuable experience forward with me, and thanked my manager for the opportunity.

I didn’t want to burn bridges. I didn’t know if I’d need these people’s recommendations later. I was acting in fear, sensing that vulnerability at this point just left me even more exposed.

But your resignation letter is one of few documents that stays in your personnel file at Apple—along with your offer letter, performance reviews, and every pay statement. That file would later become evidence in a federal investigation.

I’ll never know whether it would have helped for me to have written everything out. I know it did not feel safe to. All that felt possible was to keep my head down, transition my projects over the next six weeks, and get out of there.


My last day at Apple was in March 2020.

Soon after leaving, I learned that the federal agency responsible for upholding fair pay laws is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, or EEOC.

I read up on how to file a charge of employment discrimination. The intake process had four steps:

First, submit an inquiry through their web portal.

Then, they’d review the submission and if the question was in their bailiwick...

Third would be an intake interview to collect enough information to draft a charge, for me to review and consider submitting.

And last would be to choosing submit the charge, and formally open my case.

It felt lonely and terrifying to blow the whistle on my company’s illegal practices to a federal regulator. I told myself, just take it one step at a time.

And that July, I submitted the web form.


I submitted the EEOC’s inquiry form on 7/28/20. That same day, I got an automated notice scheduling an interview four months out.

But the next day, I got another email, from Bryan Hoss, the Intake Supervisor of the EEOC’s San Francisco and Oakland offices.

He wrote: “Per my review, I believe that an expedited intake interview is warranted for your inquiry.”

What he meant was that the statute of limitations was already running out on my claims. For the Equal Pay Act, it’s 2-3 years since the discriminatory paycheck, but for Title VII sex discrimination, it’s only 180 days. Which meant some paychecks might already be too old to include.

A few days later, on August 5th, Bryan informed me that he’d rescheduled the intake interview for the next day, August 6th.


My EEOC intake interview took place on August 6, via phone call with Alexandra Minsk.

She asked me questions about my experiences, and I told her what I’ve told you. At the end, she said it would be up to me to decide whether to file a charge, but that based on what I had told her, the EEOC would be interested in investigating.

After the call, she wrote me an email summarizing our conversation and next steps. She had prepared a draft narrative for me to read in the online portal. She asked me to review it closely, submit any recommended edits, and keep in mind that I would be signing it under penalty of perjury.

She asked me to e-sign within seven days and send it back to her. Then my charge would be served on the Respondent and transferred to the Enforcement Unit for additional processing.

On August 7 I approved the charge through the website without changing any wording, and received email confirmation that my Charge of Discrimination against APPLE, INC. had been filed.


On August 10, 2020, I received an email from Bryan Hoss with three attachments.

The first was a letter from Bryan, acknowledging receipt of my charge, which it noted was subject to both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the The Equal Pay Act (EPA).

It told me that I didn’t need to do anything further at that time. The EEOC would send a copy of the charge to Apple within 10 days, as well as to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, who could also possibly investigate.

The second letter was from DFEH, telling me that the charge had been joint filed, but that the EEOC was responsible for processing the complaint and DFEH would not be conducting an investigation into this matter. It also notified me of my “right to sue”, that is, to file a private civil lawsuit in a California Superior Court.

The third letter was again from Bryan, advising me that my inquiry had been transferred from the EEOC’s San Francisco district office to the San Jose Local Office for processing “due to the employer’s geographic location.” It did not explain why the case needed to be handled by the office closer to the employer and not the one closer to me.

I had no idea when I would hear from them next.


On September 2, 2020, Juan Vaca, the EEOC San Francisco District’s Supervising Mediation Coordinator, called me out of the blue.

He said that my case had been handed over to the investigation division, and that they hadn’t heard anything back from Apple yet.

He wanted to know if I was interested in mediating. If so, he would encourage Apple to agree to mediate before going through with drafting a position statement.

He described it like this: once a company has invested time and money in formulating their defense, they’ll be less open to mediation.

I didn’t really understand how I was supposed to expect Apple to suddenly resolve this through talking, given all the talking I’d already tried with them. I wanted the case to be investigated. And a settlement would also prevent me from being free to talk about any of what happened publicly.

I declined to mediate, and kept waiting.


Another month went by. On October 6 2020, the EEOC emailed me instructions for requesting a copy of Apple’s position statement. The email said “Once we have received the Position Statement and reviewed it, we will post it to the Public Portal where you can view or download it.”

It wasn’t clear why I had to specifically request to see it an extra step, but once I logged into the portal, the EEOC required me to agree to these terms first:

“Please be aware that by requesting these documents, you agree that you will only share them with persons in a privileged relationship, such as a spouse, clergy, or medical, financial, or legal advisor.

“Would you like to receive a copy of the Respondent’s Position Statement once we’ve received and reviewed it?”

I clicked Yes, and kept waiting.


I wouldn’t hear from the EEOC for the rest of October, or November, or December. It was a long stretch of waiting, which in retrospect was somewhat of a calm before the storm.

During this time, I focused on moving forward in my life:

I took software engineering classes at the local community college.

I rented a pottery wheel from my community studio, so that I could keep healing through my creative hobby in spite of lockdowns.

I supported my kid’s remote schooling, rode my bike, took walks, cooked nourishing foods, and just overall slowed down and took good care of myself.

During these months I grew a little stronger. But my gains in wellbeing would be swiftly compromised when the EEOC finally got back in touch in January.


On January 15, 2021, I received my first call from Lisa Fung, Investigator with the EEOC’s San Jose Local Office. The call took me by surprise, and lasted two hours.

She read me Apple’s position statement aloud. I can’t confirm what it said about my technical skills, my ability to work independently, or my feelings.

But I can confirm that as she read, I cried, and jotted frantic note after note about the misinformation and lies.

When she was done, she gave me two weeks to reply with a rebuttal. I said, OK, so you’ll email me the position statement? She said no, that she was not able to provide a written copy of the position statement during the investigation. This didn’t sound right to me.

I asked her how I was supposed to respond without being able to reference it. She said she’d send me a list of documentation to gather.

I felt a wave of nausea rising.


Lisa Fung of the EEOC sent me a list 15 items long of additional information she wanted me to turn around within two weeks. Here’s just one item from the list:

“1. Name, position title, level, yearly salary, department, employment status, name of supervisor, home and cell number and personal email address of all male comparators, who were paid more than you.  Provide more details of each male comparators’ qualifications, experience, education, and the reasons why you believe you were more qualified and experienced than each male comparator.”

I… didn’t have most of this info? I had stopped working with these people almost a year prior, and wasn’t still in touch with them. But even if I were, asking them for their personal contact info to hand to the EEOC would have been awkward. Why was this my job and not hers? I scrambled to gather as much information as I could, and reached out to the former colleagues I’d talked with, many of whom never replied.


The EEOC asked for additional information after I’d left Apple, so I didn’t have access to my Apple email or Slack conversations anymore. And I couldn’t provide her with any communications between me and my comparators that had happened at work.

So if you are having similar conversations with coworkers BACK THEM UP OUTSIDE OF WORK.

A partial list of documentation I *could* send her included:

  • a transcript showing I’d earned As in eight computer science classes
  • my performance evaluation
  • screenshots of positive feedback from coworkers
  • a photo of the greeting card my manager had given me along with a bonus
  • the CV I’d provided HR with my full history of accomplishments including the book I’d co-written and conferences I’d spoken at
  • emails from the hiring manager and recruiter during the negotiation process, and
  • the job description.


On February 5, 2021, the EEOC sent me a letter “reminding” me of my rights under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and of the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit.

On February 8, I emailed Lisa Fung the documentation she’d requested. The attachment was so large it had to be stored in the cloud. I heard nothing back from her for the rest of February or March.

Meanwhile, I turned my attention to trying to figure out if I should hire a lawyer to bring a lawsuit, or if I even could given my employment contract’s arbitration clause. Eight months earlier, I’d consulted a few employment lawyers who had all told me that the EEOC process was designed for me to not need one. But with the EEOC breaking their own rules, I couldn’t keep doing this alone.

I also reached out to other whistleblowers, to ask for referrals. I’m grateful to the women who found the time to talk with me, especially from the other side, knowing how much this process takes out of you, and the reality that you can’t help everyone who comes after.


So hiring lawyers, the first thing that I had to do was catch them up on what happened to me at Apple. That was a whole story, as you know.

Then I had to catch them up on what had happened to me with the EEOC, which is its own weird story.

I learned what it means to hire a lawyer on contingency. It means that they don’t get paid until and unless there’s a settlement in the case, unless later you win. They take on the case, they don’t bill you, but they will only work on the case as long as it looks like the odds are in favor of winning.


I began to work with my lawyers on two fronts:

First, the lawyers would take over as my representation with the EEOC, to try to buffer me from direct contact with the investigators, while still pressing on questions like how can the position statement be confidential... and will we ever get a copy?

We also began the process of filing a PAGA lawsuit. The Private Attorney General's Act in California supposedly offers a way to fine employers heavily for large scale employment law violations. It’s not exactly a class action suit, but it’s in that vein.

The first step would be to serve Apple a PAGA notice, and the lawyers got to work describing the puzzle pieces that come together to form the bigger picture, such as underleveling, stack ranking, the monitoring and controlling of affinity groups, and illegal terms in the employment contract. In the filing, the plaintiff was named as “KR aka Jane Doe.”

It was so validating seeing Apple’s actions matched up with which specific laws they violated.


On March 19 we asked the EEOC to widen my case to a class claim.

Lisa Fung wanted me to make myself available for a 2-hour interview within the next couple weeks during which I should:

“be prepared to identify all class individuals by the following criteria: full name, race, national origin, sex, last or current position held, date of hire, date of termination (if applicable), reasons for termination (if applicable), current or last known home address, cell number, home telephone number and personal email address.”

My team told me that the EEOC’s sense of urgency for gathering this information was misplaced, and they shouldn’t be rushing me.

Around this time, one of my lawyers also had a scheduled surgery, and asked for a couple weeks to recuperate before scheduling the interview.

And… despite my attorneys’ requests to stop copying me on communications, Ms. Fung kept right on cc-ing me.


On Friday, April 23, 2021, Lisa Fung finally sent the position statement, minus the exhibits which she said would not be released at that time.

The position statement was on letterhead from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, the outside firm Apple had retained. It was addressed to someone at the EEOC’s San Jose office that I hadn’t ever met or heard of.

I googled the firm, and read from their website: “Orrick’s Employment Law and Litigation group was recently named Labor & Employment Department of the Year in California by The Recorder […] in recognition of their significant wins on behalf of leading multinational companies on today’s most complex and challenging employment law matters.”

Oh. Of course there are experts in making this stuff go away. And of course Apple hired them.


I never got to read the response that Apple sent to the PAGA notice. But effectively, they were able to nip the lawsuit in the bud.

We had filed on behalf of all software engineers from marginalized groups at Apple.

Apple replied by alleging that I wasn’t a software engineer, that I was a writer, and couldn’t be part of a class of software engineers.

If the judge agreed, it would undercut our entire case.

My title at Apple had been software engineering author, and I’d been given a technical grade level (Individual Contributor Technical 3). I’d had to pass a technical interview that, remember that first coworker I’d talked with over tacos? He had failed it, because he’d lied about knowing that same API on his resume. That’s why he had to contract before being hired full-time.

I’d done a graduate certificate in software engineering, worked as a software developer, released an independent app, won a hackathon, and taught software development at a college.

But, it didn’t matter that I had badges and t-shirts Apple had given me that said “Engineer” on them. It didn’t matter that the work product I’d produced there included my original code for technologies that literally didn’t have instruction books yet, because it was my job to figure them out and explain them to others.

The lawyers told me they wouldn’t be able to proceed.


On the afternoon of May 27, 2021, I was about to drive home from an errand, when I was copied on an email from Lisa Fung at the EEOC to my lawyers. Here’s an excerpt:

“The proposed dismissal of your charge is based on the following:

  • Evidence acquired does not establish that you were paid less than similarly situated individuals because of your sex.
  • Evidence shows that Respondent properly leveled you as an ICT3 technical writer when you were hired.
  • Evidence shows that most of the remote technical writers on your team live outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Evidence shows that Respondent initially allowed you to work from home one day per week and after six months, you worked from home two days per week.
  • Evidence does not establish that the working conditions were so intolerable that you had no choice but to resign.

[…] Because it is unlikely that a violation of the statute allegedly violated can be established, a recommendation will be made that your charge be dismissed.”


My lawyers weren’t surprised by the EEOC’s ineffectiveness, and it was clear this was the end of the road.

We requested the right to sue letter, ending the EEOC’s involvement without a determination on the merits.

In the same letter, we detailed Ms. Fung’s refusal to comply with the law and my attorneys’ requests, as well as her open hostility to me, my counsel, and my claims, stating:

“it appeared that the investigator seemed intent on finding there was no discrimination and on making it as uncomfortable as possible for Ms. Rotondo to proceed.”

To this day, I wonder whether I saved the EEOC the embarassment of adding my claim to their denied pile.

Of the nearly 1200 Equal Pay Act claims made to the EEOC in fiscal year 2020, over 60% were dismissed as having “no reasonable cause”, and only around 20% ended in “merit resolutions.” I think mine must have ended up in the 20% labelled “administrative closures.”


I ended my representation with my lawyers on June 7, 2021. After more than two years, my fight was over, and I had lost.

About once a year I hear a news story about a whistleblower who has successfully brought a class claim, or won an individual settlement. The press is kind of obsessed with these hero stories. But they’re the minority.

There are so many victims out here who fight as hard as I did to no avail. The systems that were supposed to protect us harmed us further instead. And because we didn’t win, our stories aren’t told.

Let me tell you another story that the press missed. Guess who swung through the revolving door and started a job in employee relations at Apple in November 2021… my EEOC intake investigator, Bryan Hoss. On Linked In he describes his job like this:

“As a member of corporate employee relations, I am responsible for handling complex workplace investigations. I also conduct risk assessments and provide ER guidance to the teams that I support, while maintaining clear communication with the leaders of ER, People, and Legal.”

Can anyone say regulatory capture?


So, this month was a lightning fast retelling of my Apple pay discrimination saga. It really only skims the surface, so I’m curious. Were there parts you had questions about?

Also, now that you’ve heard my story, does it make you think any differently about equal pay laws? Do you think it’s helpful for laws to exist that lack meaningful enforcement? Does it make sense to you that regulatory agencies would deny a majority of claims that people file? How much should it reasonably cost an employee in money—or time—to pursue justice?

Lastly, if you want to watch all the videos again, or share them with a friend or coworker, I’ve collected them all in a WHM 2024 highlight on my Instagram profile, so you can always find them there.

Thanks for watching.

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