Six miles from Apple’s shiny new campus, which was heralded as a glowing beacon of the Silicon Valley tech industry’s wealth, the company also operates a smaller facility for contractors who work on Apple Maps.
Inside, the conditions are so grim and secretive that many of the contractors, who tend to quit or get fired before the end of their contracts, refer to it as a “black site” kept separate from the rest of Apple’s more outwardly-glamorous operations, according to Bloomberg.
“Being monitored like that is super dehumanizing and terrifying,” one former contractor told the magazine.
A number of those contractors spoke to Bloomberg on the condition of anonymity. Many were hired by outside agencies such as Apex Systems, which manages day-to-day operations at the facility, where employees were asked to use the back door and to walk several blocks away before hailing a ride home.
While they were there, the contractors typically double-checked Apple Maps’ systems to make sure roads were mapped correctly, and fielded complaints about inaccuracies. But their managers often enforced draconian policies, breaking up water cooler chats and forbidding conversations with full-time Apple staff.
“It was made pretty plain to us that we were at-will employees and they would fire us at any time,” one contractor told Bloomberg.
Many of the contractors, who tended to be hired straight out of college, eager for what they thought would be a promising career at Apple, were fired for not being productive enough. Others quit outright.
“There was a culture of fear among the contractors which I got infected by and probably spread,” that same anonymous contractor told Bloomberg.
Apple’s internal review of operations at the black site found that worker conditions met their standards. However, Bloomberg reported, the anonymous contractors who spoke up agreed that their lives improved after leaving Apple.
READ MORE: What It’s Like to Work Inside Apple’s ‘Black Site’ [Bloomberg]