[Updated on October 13, 2016 to include Apple’s statement about its investigation.]
A number of staff members at an Apple Store in Brisbane, Australia, were reportedly fired this week after they were accused of secretly taking photos of female customers before sharing the images with staff at other Apple Stores. Those involved allegedly then rated the customers according to their looks.
The workers at the Carindale store, located a few miles from downtown Brisbane, were also accused of stealing photos from mobile devices brought in by customers, the Courier-Mail reported.
However, following the publication of the Courier-Mail’s report late Wednesday, Apple revealed in a statement to Digital Trends that the findings of an investigation have showed no evidence that customers had been targeted, apparently suggesting that female staff were instead the victims.
“Based on our investigation thus far, we have seen no evidence that customer data or photos were inappropriately transferred or that anyone was photographed by these former employees. We have met with our store team to let them know about the investigation and inform them about the steps Apple is taking to protect their privacy.”
The company added, “Apple believes in treating everyone equally and with respect, and we do not tolerate behavior that goes against our values. We are investigating a violation of Apple’s business conduct policy at our store in Carindale, where several employees have already been terminated as a result of our findings.”
The Courier-Mail’s report had said that at least 100 “close-up and explicit photos” had been taken of female staff and customers without them realizing, and that a number of images had also been “lifted from some Apple customers’ phones” when the devices were being repaired.
“Everyone feels uncomfortable and the female staff don’t know how to feel because the leadership won’t tell staff who is involved,” one employee at the store told the Courier-Mail.
The incident is so serious that the Cupertino-based company has reportedly flown in an executive to “manage the fallout.”
The issue reportedly came to light when a member of staff at the Carindale store noticed a technician looking through a customer’s iPhone in a room away from the store floor.
Apple is continuing to look into the incident to find out if staff at other stores in the region are involved.