Spotify sued by former employee for gender discrimination, equal pay violation and defamation

Written by Maya-Rose Torrão

Hong Perez, a former sales executive at Spotify, against the whole of Spotify as well her former boss Brian Berner in the New York Supreme Court, for discrimination, equal pay violation and defamation.

Perez has accused the company of widespread discrimination against female employees in general but has also mentioned specific instances of blatant discrimination. One such example Perez outlines is the “boy’s trips” that Berner and male-only colleagues would go on, to the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and 2017. Those going on the trips frequently spoke about their drug usage on such excursions, as well as a serious physical altercation which one employee was involved in, but no disciplinary action was taken for any of these actions. Perez’s male colleagues were also allegedly invited on men-only trips to Atlantic City strip clubs.

Berner was well aware of male employees violating the code of conduct, yet did nothing,” Perez says. While no action was taken against male employees who did not adhere to the code of conduct, Perez claims that she herself was accused of doing so. Perez says that she was falsely blamed for Berner’s acceptance of free tickets to Madison Square Garden and issues surrounding a discounting deal; the company sent an email to the Spotify sales team alleging that she violated the company’s code of conduct. Perez was subsequently fired.

Perez’s complaint also outlines how another Spotify executive was promoted even though they had received several sexual harassment warnings. Spotify’s CFO also allegedly told employees that “he does not care about diversity at the company,” and the Head of Human Resources at the company once announced in an all-hands meeting that his favourite curse word is “c*nt.” Perez also accused Spotify of awarding men higher compensation and equity compared to women in the company.

Spotify responded to the lawsuit, saying, “At Spotify, we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at any level. While we cannot comment on the specific details of a pending litigation, these claims are without merit.

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