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PlayStation faces gender discrimination lawsuit

Former Sony IT security analyst seeks class action for her suit

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Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

A former security analyst for Sony Interactive Entertainment is suing the PlayStation maker for gender discrimination and wrongful termination, according to a lawsuit filed Monday. Axios first reported the news on Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed in a California court, is seeking class action status to include any women impacted by alleged gender discrimination at Sony. In the lawsuit, the former IT security analyst, Emma Majo, said women at the company were not paid equally to male employees with similar titles and roles, and were denied promotions and equal compensation. She alleged that Sony “tolerates and cultivates a work environment that discriminates against female employees.”

Majo’s suit says she told Sony of the discrimination with a signed statement in 2021. Her lawsuit alleges that “soon after,” the company fired her. The company attributed her dismissal to the elimination of a department, but Majo said she was not even a part of that department.

Majo detailed these and other allegations from a Sony career dating to 2015. She says that she saw bias against women regarding promotions; that she remained in the same position without a promotion for six years, despite frequently asking for one; and that some male supervisors, including security director Yuu Sugita, would not speak to women with the door closed. If another male colleague was present, Sugita would speak only to him,

Majo added that she frequently made requests through her male co-workers, feeling that they would be ignored if she made them. Likewise, Majo said she has “personally heard managers make gender-based comments about female workers.” Majo also said the company had a 60-40 split, men to women, when she started in 2015, and the company hired more men than women thereafter. As of a 2020 study, Sony’s executive committee was exclusively male.

Majo’s suit said she believes gender bias, and because she spoke up about it, caused her dismissal.

Majo filed a complaint with the California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), and received a “notice of right to sue” in November. The DFEH is the state authority that filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in July. Activision Blizzard workers walked out of work last week following another report describing CEO Bobby Kotick’s knowledge of and alleged interference in sexual harassment cases at the company. These lawsuits also follow a gender-based discrimination lawsuit filed against Riot Games; the company settled for $10 million in 2019.

The video game industry is in the middle of a larger reckoning with bias, discrimination, and harassment in the workplace. Major companies like Ubisoft, as well as Riot and Activision Blizzard, have been forced to acknowledge the toxic work environment women have dealt with inside their companies, while their employees fight for safer workplaces.

Last week, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan notably called out Activision Blizzard and CEO Kotick in an email to staff; he told workers he was “disheartened” and “stunned” that Activision Blizzard has not addressed its “deep-seated culture of discrimination and harassment.”

Polygon has reached out to Sony for more information.

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