Apr 22, 2022 - Technology

Judge says gender discrimination suit against PlayStation is light on facts

Close-up photograph of a white PlayStation 5 controller
Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge dismissed much of a former Sony PlayStation employee's gender discrimination lawsuit against the gaming giant on Thursday, but is giving her an opportunity to make a stronger case.

Driving the news: In a 20-page order, U.S. magistrate judge Laurel Beeler dismissed 10 of ex-worker Emma Majo's 13 claims without prejudice, including those focused on pay discrimination and harassment.

  • Majo can amend those claims and try again, but will have to rebound from a ruling that says she hadn't stated enough details to make her case, particularly regarding alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act.

What they're saying: "This claim is dismissed because the plaintiff merely recited the elements of the claim and did not allege any specific facts," Beeler wrote.

  • "For example, she does not describe her work or how her work was substantially equal to the work of any male allegedly paid more than she was paid. "
  • Majo can continue to sue Sony over three claims involving wrongful termination and violation of whistleblower protections, the judge ruled.

Majo filed suit in November, saying she was fired in 2021 after submitting a gender bias complaint to the company.

  • Sony had discriminated against female employees for years, she said, paying them less and subjecting them " to a work culture predominated by men.”
  • In February, Sony's lawyers denied the claims and asked the court to toss the whole suit

Between the lines: Throughout her ruling, Beeler echoed Sony's assertion that Majo simply didn't present enough facts to make her case.

  • In some cases, the judge ruled, claims of harassment were incorrectly applied to personnel decisions like promotions and demotions.

Yes, but: This legal fight may still get bigger.

  • Majo wanted to turn her suit into a class action claim on behalf of women who've worked for PlayStation, and the judge denied Sony's efforts to strike that.
  • Beeler cited declarations added to Majo's suit in March from eight other women who currently and formerly worked for PlayStation.
  • Those filings were full of claims of sexist work practices at PlayStation, and the judge noted that the declarations "may yield new allegations."
  • Sony had said it took those women's claims seriously and had addressed or planned to address them.

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