Last year, former IT Security Analyst, Emma Majo, filed a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit against Sony PlayStation. In the filing, Majo alleged Sony “tolerates and cultivates a work environment that discriminates against female employees”, and for specifically violating the United States’ Equal Pay Act. Furthermore, Majo claims that when she submitted a gender bias complaint to Sony, she was allegedly quickly and unlawfully terminated. Majo stated that Sony said her firing was over a closure of an internal department; however, Majo argues she was not working within the department that closed.
Due to feeling wrongfully terminated and that Sony has a widespread gender discrimination culture, Majo and her lawyers were able to make her single case into a class-action lawsuit. Since then, 12 other women have joined the lawsuit, all alleging Sony discriminates towards women. The most frequent theme among the women were that most alleged it was much harder for women to be promoted, a feeling also backed by Senior Director Marie Harrington. Harrington stated that one instance in her 16-year tenure with Sony “allegedly only had four women up for promotion consideration while there were roughly 70 men.” Being neglected for promotion were not the only accusations raised towards Sony, with other allegations of “demeaning comments, unwelcome advances, and a lack of attention paid to their work or ideas.”
Despite additional women joining the lawsuit and giving their personal testimonies, U.S. magistrate judge, Laurel Beeler, has dismissed Majo’s lawsuit. The explanation behind the dismissal is that Majo, and most of the other women, lacked enough evidence to support their accusations that Sony had violated the United States’ Equal Pay Act. Due to the court rejecting the federal, initial claim, the court lost jurisdiction over all of the state claims within the lawsuit, thereby dismissing all claims.
Despite the court losing jurisdiction over Majo’s case, the court stated other lawsuits could be filed against Sony. Within the explanation for dismissal, the court dismissed most claims; however, the court did believe that 3 of the 13 women have legitimate state claims against Sony. The charges the court believed that could be later filed against Sony were statutory and common-law wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation under Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5(b), and retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Additionally, the court is also allowing Majo to amend her complaint within 28 days, and if she does file a second complaint, the 8 added testimonies will be more incorporated and further examined as well. Due to this, the court considers the allegations surrounding Sony to be merely “in flux” because the court contends “it is premature to decide [the verdict] based on an inadequately pled complaint.”