(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. plans to appeal a National Labor Relations Board judge’s ruling that the company violated employee rights by “coercively” interrogating them about pro-union sympathies and restricting the circulation of union flyers.

Apple said in a statement Friday that it disagreed with the ruling and will address it “through the NLRB process.” The decision, delivered earlier this week, centered on Apple’s retail employees at its World Trade Center store in New York City, one of several around the country where workers mounted union campaigns last year.

“Regular open, honest, and direct communication with our team members is a key part of Apple’s collaborative culture,” the Cupertino, California-based company said in the statement.

The judge wrote that Apple should be required to “cease and desist” from interrogating workers about their legally protected labor activism. The company also should stop confiscating pro-union literature in its break rooms and “interfering with, restraining or coercing employees” in the exercise of their rights, according to the decision.

The move marked the first time that an NLRB judge has ruled against Apple. Such decisions can be appealed to the labor board’s members in Washington and, from there, to federal appeals court. The agency has the authority to order changes to company policies, but not to hold executives personally liable for violations or to impose punitive damages.

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