Rights and responsibilities
There's lots of writing about rights here - right to free speech, and so on - but not enough about responsibilities. If you take an employer's money, month after month, and are responsible for selling its products, then you have a duty towards it. I don't care if the company is Apple, or McDonalds, or the local garage down the street. Long before Charters Of Rights became fashionable, there was a simple aphorism to describe the relationship: You Don't Bite The Hand That Feeds You.
If an employee is going to slag off his employer, in a public forum, in writing, then he can't expect to remain an employee. I don't understand why people don't get that, it's pretty damned simple.
If I go down the pub with some friends, or have dinner with them, and make rude remarks about my employer, then I run the risk that they will go tell my employer. That's a risk I choose to accept with some friends, and not with others. As I understand it, Facebook "privacy" and "friends" aren't quite the same thing, and of course it's all in writing.
Some people have said that Apple reacted wrongly. As I see it, they're in no-obvious-win land here, and they've chosen the best course. What can they do? He may have already had a slap on the wrist and a verbal warning, we don't know. But I suspect not - if you just do that, then the message it sends to other staff is that he got away with breaching one of the tenets of behaviour that they were told in induction were fundamental, so that's not too clever.
So if they try and sack him and keep him quiet, well they can do that if he's willing - it's called a compromise agreement - but it'll cost a lot of money. So the message that THAT sends is that slagging your employer off in public gets you a nice tax-free lump sum. Again, not too clever.
So they've done what they've done, and actually it's the right thing to do. It garners some short-term nagative publicity, but most right-thinking people will agree that it was the right thing for Apple to do, so it won't be that damaging. And, internally, it sends the message to staff that if you have a problem with us, you sort it out internally: If you slag us off in public, as we have asked you not to do as a condition of your employment, then we WILL sack you and we WILL win and you WILL be landed with costs.