Every employee who leaves Apple becomes an ‘associate’

Reed Albergotti, Washington Post:

Inside Apple, your job classification can mean a lot. The difference between a “level 4″ engineer and a “level 5,” for instance, could mean a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. And those titles help determine how much Apple employees can make when they leave the company for another job.


In widely used databases that companies refer to for verification of job information, Apple changes the job title for every employee, whether they’re a PhD in computer science or a product manager, to “associate,” the company confirms.


The practice recently came to light when Cher Scarlett, a former Apple software engineer who raised concerns about alleged discrimination and misconduct at the company, filed a complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that when Apple changed her job title to “associate,” it delayed the hiring process at a prospective employer by nearly a week, during which time the company rescinded the offer.

This is a long-standing practice for Apple, but it seems obvious that this can be an issue for folks who leave Apple and list a specific job title on their resume. What’s the harm to Apple if they change someone’s title to, say, “Former Level 4 Engineer” or some such? And what’s the benefit to Apple in changing someone’s title to “Associate”?