Sony Interactive Entertainment faces a proposed class action that alleges the video game giant has failed to pay employees who are female, or who identify as female, equally to males who perform substantially similar work, and fired a worker after she spoke up about the issue.
The 36-page lawsuit alleges Sony Interactive has, by way of discriminatory policies and practices, held certain female employees back in lower pay levels and denied promotions on the basis of sex. According to the complaint, Sony Interactive “tolerates and cultivates” a work environment that’s discriminatory toward employees who are female or who identify as female, as these workers face systemic gender-based inequities when it comes to both advancement within the company and compensation.
Overall, Sony Interactive management, the lawsuit alleges, does not provide sufficient oversight or safety measures to protect against “intentional and overt discrimination” or the disparate impact of “facially neutral policies and procedures,” namely those concerning pay and promotions, on female employees. Any discrimination-specific policies that might exist at Sony Interactive are effectively toothless, the suit charges, claiming Sony’s discriminatory employment practices stem from “the highest levels” within the company.
“Whatever complaint and compliance policies may exist, lack meaningful controls, standards, implementation metrics, and means of redress such that upper management may ignore, disregard, minimize, cover up, mishandle, or otherwise fail to respond properly to evidence of discrimination in the workplace,” the complaint alleges.
The complaint says that the plaintiff, a former San Diego Sony employee, and proposed class members have experienced harm including loss of compensation, back pay and employment benefits, as well as emotional distress, as a result of the “rampant and pervasive” gender discrimination within Sony Interactive. The case states that the plaintiff was terminated under false pretenses shortly after submitting a signed statement to Sony in 2021 detailing the gender bias she experienced.
The filing alleges Sony interactive has “minimized, ignored, or covered-up evidence of gender discrimination in the workplace, and/or otherwise mishandled the investigation of and response to complaints of discrimination.” Sony Interactive has more broadly cultivated what the lawsuit alleges to be an indifference to evidence of gender discrimination, the suit claims.
With regard to the plaintiff, the lawsuit says her department was a 60/40 percent split between men and women when she first began with the company. Over the last few years, the case relays, the plaintiff “observed a shift towards more and more males.”
The plaintiff alleges Sony Interactive has managers who will not be alone in a room with a female with the door closed. She claims that one manager, in such an instance, would only speak to a male colleague and acted as though the female employee was not even in the room. Of this manager, the plaintiff says the individual would ignore her requests when she wanted to get something done.
“The request would garner a response when it came from a male intern while a virtually identical request would be ignored if it came from a higher-level female employee,” the lawsuit claims.
According to the suit, the plaintiff left a specific department within Sony Interactive “because it became clear to her there was no path to get promoted.” The plaintiff claims that she was effectively demoted after attempting to speak to three different managers about possible advancement opportunities.
“Plaintiff worked for Sony for half a decade, and Plaintiff did not earn a promotion from 2015 to 2021,” the suit says. “Plaintiff was essentially in the same position for approximately six years. Plaintiff was unable to earn any managerial title and still had a staff title. Additionally, Plaintiff had the same direct subordinate for three years, but Sony never made Plaintiff’s management role official.”
The plaintiff also claims to have heard Sony managers make gender-based comments about female workers, including remarks about performance issues being related to “a lot going on at home.” The lawsuit argues that this behavior construes women as more emotional and less professional than male workers.
The filing goes on to allege that Sony’s human resources department itself “creates resistance” when female employees and those who identify as female attempt to get promoted. Sony HR, the suit claims, loses track of females seeking promotion, and the department and managers will often say someone can’t be promoted because they don’t currently hold a specific job title.
In its notification of the plaintiff’s termination, Sony, the suit says, told the worker that the company was eliminating a certain department and that she would be terminated as a result. The lawsuit alleges this was a false basis on which to fire the plaintiff considering she was not a member of the department being axed.
The lawsuit looks to cover all individuals employed by Sony Interactive Entertainment, LLC in the United States at any time during the last three years and through the date of trial and who are either female or who identify as female.
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