New court filings detail PlayStation maker Sony’s widespread sexism
Eight former and current employees of Sony Interactive Entertainment accused the PlayStation maker of sexism. According to documents filed on Tuesday. Former security analyst Emma Mayo filed a lawsuit against Sony for gender discrimination and wrongful termination in November 2021. Mayo is seeking class-action status to include other employees affected by sexism in the company. Sony filed to dismiss the complaint, citing a lack of details proving “widespread intentional discrimination Axios first reported applications..”
On Tuesday, Mayo’s attorney filed statements of support from seven former PlayStation employees. And one current employee. These women provided written words of support detailing sexism at the company and in many offices across the United States. The accusations described in these documents range from the devaluation of women’s ideas and discrimination against mothers to sexual harassment and the systemic struggle for women’s promotion.
In a nearby statement, Stephen Noel Ilg, Mayo’s lawyer, said that several other women feared retribution from Sony and “were too scared to talk about what happened at the company.”
Marie Harrington, a former senior director at Sony Interactive, left Sony in 2019 due to the “systemic sexism against women” reported throughout her career and outlined in a nine-page filing on Tuesday. She pointed to cases where women were underestimated compared to men in “calibration sessions” when management singled out high performers in the company. In April, Harrington reported that 70 workers were tested during the calibration session. And only four of them were women. She also cited a case where she said bullying by a man to her manager. “Can we resolve this issue before PlayStation has its nationwide news article?” she wrote in an email attached to the application.
Harrington also said the men at Sony would rank female employees based on their “attractiveness” and spread “dirty jokes and images of women. She also described a case in which an engineer asked her not to wear skirts at work. Because it distracted him and claimed that male engineers went to strip clubs during lunch and shared pornography, on another occasion, Harrington says she asked for a private breastfeeding room after birth to twins in 2005. She had to use “a pantry with a broken lock right outside the lobby.” Harrington wrote that she stopped breastfeeding early “because it was unbearable under the circumstances.”
Other women in their statements cited similar examples. One former employee said that in her five years at Sony in the San Mateo and San Francisco offices. She worked directly with four other women. All of these women eventually left the company “for similar reasons related to sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and inability to get promoted. She described instances where men made remarks about women not being tech-savvy.
And another instance where a senior manager tried to “grab her chest” at an outdoor work event. Another former employee described a similar experience at a work event involving alcohol: “A senior male manager inappropriately approached me. He hugged me and whispered in my ear. I left went to the bathroom. And told some female colleagues about it. Shortly after that, I transferred departments.”
Another former employee, Cara Johnson, who left in 2021, wrote a statement to Sony’s Women in PlayStation (Women @ PS) group. She said at least ten women left the Sony office at Rancho Bernardo four months. “While some dropout was expected after the launch of PS5, the disproportionate number of women leaving has alarmed management.”
One woman spoke of an independent investigation at Sony that found “a big imbalance in terms of staff distribution” within her team.
Alleged sexual harassment and sexism at Sony is not just the company’s problem. The video game industry has faced pervasive sexism in the past few years. Riot Games, developer League of Legends, was ordered to pay $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging gender discrimination in the company after the Kotaku report detailing widespread sexism. Activision Blizzard is also facing multiple lawsuits regarding its alleged sexist culture. The Ubisoft creators Assassin’s Creed Valhallathe company faced. There is a “big exodus” of workers due to low wages, better opportunities. And frustration over the company’s allegations of workplace misconduct.
Payback isn’t limited to big studios either. In 2021 Gone Home creator Steve Gaynor steps down as creative director open roads after ten women quit during game development due to his alleged behavior.
Polygon has reached out to Sony for comment. We’ll update this story if we get a response.