When Steve Jobs recently announced that he would be taking a leave of absence from Apple, a number of critics began shouting that Apple and Steve Jobs haven’t been completely forthright in regards to his health. Some have even suggested that Apple’s board deliberately withheld relevant and material information from the public so as not to affect Apple’s stock price. It’s important, though, to move beyond the chirping of tech pundits and actually examine the extent of any legal obligations, if any, that Steve Jobs and Apple had to keep the public abreast of his health
Securities Law doesn’t provide an explicit rule requiring executives to reveal their health to the public at large, but an executives health can appropriately become subject to public inquiry if the information would be of interest to a reasonable investor, and if that ailment affects that executive’s ability to carry out his/her job duties…
When Steve Jobs first informed the public about his hormonal imbalance, he noted that his weight loss had been a “mystery to me and my doctors.” Jobs then goes on to state that after further testing, his doctors “think they found the cause.” If the doctors caring for Jobs weren’t even able to diagnose his condition, what information could he himself have been able to disclose to the Apple board or to the public? Was he supposed to come out and say, “Hey guys, I realize I’ve been losing weight but the doctors aren’t quite sure why yet”?
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