Sony, multinational conglomerate corporation, is being accused of racial discrimination against Black employees. Some had been invited to appear in a Black History Month video earlier this year to speak as “Sony shining stars” about the power of Black voices in the company. Yet at least one of those workers now alleges that the company’s representations of diversity failed to match reality.
According to Buzzfeed, plaintiff said she raised concerns about racist remarks by her supervisors. Instead of addressing those, management for the company allegedly retaliated against her by excluding her from meetings, taking away certain prime accounts and then terminating her while she was on sick leave after contracting the coronavirus. She now believes she was used by the company to bulk up its diversity numbers, and had no intention of actually living up to the image it portrayed.
The company declined to comment on the specific lawsuit, Buzzfeed reported, but insisted dedication to equity, inclusion and diversity, adding all such complaints are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.
Our Los Angeles racial discrimination employment lawyers know this is far from an isolated incident in terms of employees of color closely considering whether the racial inequality reckoning that’s reverberated across the country over the last year has actually resulted in meaningful changes – particularly in terms of employment.
Representatives from numerous large companies have revealed their dread in confronting workplace racism once offices are fully reopened again – or rather, doing so unsuccessfully. Sony was one of many companies to voice an expression of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement last year.
However, at least one of their former employees disagrees that they’ve lived up to those statements. The 40-year-old now living in Florida told a reporter that there were daily microaggressions that were overlooked and opportunities that were routinely denied to people of color. Prior to the release of the Black History Month video, she said her supervisor questioned the need for the video in the first place, allegedly saying that the BLM movement made people of color “feel more powerful than they are,” that they should “feel grateful for whatever they’re given” and that she appreciated those who “know their place” and work hard instead of receiving a handout from government agencies. The supervisor reportedly stated another time that the vice presidential pick was all to appease BLM activists.
When plaintiff complained about these comments, she said management launched a campaign of systemic retaliation against her. All this, she said, came as a shock, given that when she first interviewed for the position, the company went out of its way to emphasize its commitment to inclusion and diversity. She now believes she was only hired to make the company appear as if it valued diversity, while in reality she was denied equal opportunities compared to her white counterparts.
That supervisor, who’s worked for the corporation for more than two decades, didn’t offer comment. Neither she nor the company have filed a legal defense to the claims. A third-party investigator hired by the company to look into plaintiff’s claims of poor treatment and offensive comments determined no violation of company policy.
A current employee who worked with plaintiff backed her version of events, saying “it seemed very directed against her.”
As an affirmative action employer (a designation for federal contractors), the company is required to not only recruit but advance minorities, women, people with disabilities and veterans who are qualified – or else risk losing their existing federal contracts and possibly eligibility for future contracts.
Plaintiff is suing the company for lost wages, injunctive relief to comply with affirmative action employment statutes and to halt discriminatory practices based on race and gender.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
A Former Sony Employee Says She Was A Diversity “Token.” She’s Suing For Discrimination, July 16, 2021, Buzzfeed