Apple employees remain split on decision to fire exec who joked about fondling 'big-breasted women' in viral TikTok
- Apple staffers appear to have mixed reactions to the firing of former executive, Tony Blevins.
- The tech giant terminated Blevins in response to brash comments he made in a viral TikTok.
Months after former Apple exec Tony Blevins was fired in September for making crass remarks in a viral TikTok post, his colleagues and fellow employees at the tech giant seem to have mixed feeling about his termination.
Staffers who previously worked with Blevins told the Wall Street Journal for a recent story that they hadn't witnessed sexist or unprofessional behavior, noting he would occasionally use comedy to diffuse heated moments. Blevins worked as a vice president of procurement at Apple for 22 years, and was highly regarded for his negotiating skills and ability to keep costs down, according to the Journal.
Blevins' downfall came in the form of a 25-second video. The former executive is asked what he does for a living while exiting his Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, a rare luxury car with a pricetag of upwards of $500,000.
"I have rich cars, play golf and fondle big-breasted women, but I take weekends and major holidays off," Blevins responds, in what he later claimed was a reference to the 1981 film "Arthur."
The video, which was posted by Daniel Mac as part of a series where he asks people with expensive cars about their careers, has now been viewed 2 million times. It also was flagged to Apple's human resources team, prompting an executive to reach out to Blevins.
Blevins told the Journal he spent all night trying to contact Mac to remove the video from TikTok after Apple contacted him at 1:30 a.m. asking that he get it taken down immediately. According to Blevins, he was told by an exec that "this is really bad, some people have complained."
Blevins was ultimately asked to resign, and when he refused he was let go without severance in September, he said.
"It utterly shocked me," he told the Journal. "My whole life has been Apple. I tried to be the most loyal person."
While some staffers were surprised by his termination, others told the Journal the decision was important to enforce inclusion and prevent discrimination at Apple.
"Leaders need to embody Apple's principles," Chris Deaver, a former senior human-resources official at Apple who left in 2019, told WSJ.
The decision from Apple has spurred widespread debate among those who found the firing to be extreme, and others — including etiquette experts who formerly spoke to Insider — who say it's "never appropriate" to make such comments.
"We all know the old adage 'loose lips sink ships,'" Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Texas, told Insider in September. "It's never appropriate to make a condescending comment. Even if it's a riff off a movie, it's still not appropriate — it's offensive, it's dismissive, and it's demeaning."
After he was fired, company executives still planned a going-away party for him — a move Blevins told the Journal he felt was "hypocritical" after firing him. It was ultimately canceled.
"It was 22 years dissolved in about 25 seconds," Blevins said.
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