May 20, 2022 - Technology

Gender discrimination lawsuit against PlayStation returns

PlayStation logo and the silhouette of a woman holding a phone
Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Former PlayStation employee Emma Majo is again suing PlayStation in a potential class action gender discrimination lawsuit, this time in California, after a federal judge dismissed her first lawsuit last month.

Why it matters: Sony, like other video game companies before it, faces allegations it had a sexist workplace.

  • But Majo, who said in her November suit that she was fired after complaining about gender bias, has encountered more judicial skepticism in the early going than others.

Driving the news: The new, narrower complaint is no longer national. Instead of seeking damages for all women who worked for PlayStation in the U.S., it’s trying to get them for women below the vice president level who worked at PlayStation’s California locations, including San Francisco and San Diego.

  • The new lawsuit largely collects allegations made in Majo’s original November complaint and those of several other women who work or worked at PlayStation and described their experiences in declarations made public in March.
  • Incidents involve women allegedly being passed up for promotions as men in the same department advance, unequal pay, retaliation, dismissive comments about women’s abilities and a Deloitte study that is said to have found that Sony had a “very low” percentage of women in management positions compared to peers.
  • The suit states: "Because of Sony’s systemic pattern and practice of gender discrimination, the plaintiff and members of the proposed class have suffered harm including lost compensation, back pay, employment benefits, and emotional distress." It specifically alleges violations of California's Equal Pay Act

Between the lines: In April, a federal judge echoed arguments made by Sony’s own lawyers that Majo’s initial complaint was light on facts.

  • She dismissed it but said Majo could bring it back with more specific details.
  • Majo’s new claim appears to act on that guidance, adding the other women’s details, while downscaling the issue from a federal matter.

Sony reps did not reply to a request for comment, but PlayStation lawyers argued in February that Majo’s federal complaint failed to cite any policies or practices that proved there were widespread issues worthy of a class action.

  • At the time, they said Majo's "widespread claims of harassment are based solely on unactionable allegations of run-of-the-mill personnel activity."
  • It's impossible to judge at this stage of the revisions to Majo's filing can prevail over such arguments.

What’s next: It’s Sony’s turn to reply.

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