Nov 23, 2021 - Technology

Lawsuit against PlayStation alleges gender discrimination

Photo of a screen displaying PlayStation logos

Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A former IT security analyst at Sony PlayStation filed a lawsuit against the company in California on Monday, alleging gender discrimination and wrongful termination after speaking up “about discrimination against females” at the gaming giant.

Why it matters: Video game companies are under increased scrutiny for their treatment of women in an industry long dominated by men.

  • The Sony suit comes amid high-profile state and federal lawsuits against “Call of Duty” maker Activision over alleged sexual misconduct and gender-based pay disparities.
  • Game companies ranging from Ubisoft and Riot, to indies such as Fullbright, have faced a reckoning over women’s experiences working for them.

Driving the news: The former IT security analyst, Emma Majo, is seeking court approval to expand her effort into a class action on behalf of women who’ve worked for PlayStation in the past few years.

  • The suit alleges violations of the United States’ Equal Pay Act, saying: “Sony discriminates against female employees, including those who are female and those who identify as female, in compensation and promotion and subjects them to a work culture predominated by men.”
  • Majo alleges that she was ignored by a manager who only responded to men, was passed over for promotions, and was terminated this year after submitting a gender bias complaint to the company.
  • She says other women at PlayStation struggled to get promoted at the same rate as men.

Representatives from PlayStation did not immediately respond to questions about the lawsuit.

  • Majo notes in her suit that Sony says she was terminated because of the closure of an internal department, though she says she wasn’t in that department.

The big picture: Scrutiny of game companies over their treatment of women has been especially intense in California, where Sony’s U.S. headquarters is based.

  • In 2018, women from LA-based Riot Games filed a class-action suit alleging gender discrimination. Activision is also based in the state.
  • California’s regulatory environment affords workers and state agencies many avenues for holding companies accountable.
  • The plaintiff in the PlayStation suit says she plans to invoke California’s Private Attorney General Act, which lets private citizens sue for breach of state labor laws. (Uber was sued via the same law in 2017.)

Go deeper: Read the lawsuit

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