Apple exec Tony Blevins announced he is leaving the company after controversy from a viral TikTok video.
In the video, Blevins makes a joke about fondling women's breasts, which he said was a riff on the '80s movie "Arthur."
Experts told Insider that regardless of the origins of the remarks, Apple did the right thing.
Apple's vice president of procurement Tony Blevins is claiming a crude joke that cost him his job was a reference to a 1981 film. But movie riff or not, experts told Insider that Apple was right to pursue an investigation into the exec's conduct, which ultimately led to his resignation.
Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Blevins is leaving the company, after sparking significant controversy for remarks he made in a viral TikTok video. In the clip - now viewed more than 1.4 million times - Blevins is asked what he does for a living. He responds: "I have rich cars, play golf and fondle big-breasted women, but I take weekends and major holidays off."
Blevins said in a statement to Bloomberg that the remarks were a reference to a quote from the 1981 movie "Arthur," in which actor Dudley Moore in the titular role says, "I race cars, play tennis and fondle women, but I have weekends off and I am my own boss."
The video was flagged to Apple's human resources team by multiple employees, leading to an internal investigation. Six direct reports and hundreds of employees were removed from Blevins' management, according to Bloomberg.
"I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my mistaken attempt at humor," Blevins told Bloomberg. Apple did not immediately respond to Insider's request to comment.
While some are saying the move is draconian given the exec was quoting a movie, three experts told Insider they believe Apple did the right thing by swiftly pursuing an investigation, and were unanimous that executives should avoid crass remarks.
Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Texas, told Insider it is "never appropriate" to make such a comment, even if it's a play on a movie quote.
"We all know the old adage 'loose lips sink ships,'" she said. "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. And even when you are repeating something somebody else says, it still can potentially, and most often does, offend someone."
She said while high ranking executives should be especially vigilant about such verbal slips, all employees should be mindful of their comments in professional and personal settings.
"We should always think before we open our mouth - that pertains to all of us," she said. "It's common courtesy and common sense. We pay the consequences when we open our mouth without thinking."
Michael Elkins, founder and partner at Fort Lauderdale-based law firm MLE Law, told Insider he believes Apple "did the right thing" and launching an investigation was "100% the right move."
"They did exactly what any company should do," Elkins said. "Investigating potential claims or general employment issues is not 'conservative,' it's smart. Too many times employers don't investigate, and the failure to investigate results in considerable exposure."
He said business leaders are expected to act with decorum, which means thinking twice before making or repeating offensive statements, noting Blevins' departure also could be indicative of underlying issues.
"While you hate to see an employee lose their job over a sarcastic video, Blevins has to know better," he said. "Sarcasm doesn't always translate to the masses. He has to be aware of his position and role in literally the most recognized company in the world."
He continued: "When you have that type of position, you give up the freedom to say and do what you want when you want. That may be harsh, but it is the reality."
Lauren Winans, CEO of Next Level Benefits, an HR consulting firm, echoed Elkins, and told Insider she believes Apple "absolutely handled this the right way."
"Anything short of this outcome would have been criticized as not doing enough," Winans told Insider. "After comments like this, particularly when they've gone viral, it will be virtually impossible to maintain respect and credibility as a leader. Very few employees would have felt comfortable continuing to report to and work with a leader who is reckless with their words, even if the comments were a failed attempt at humor."