Ex-Sales Manager Accuses Spotify of Gender Discrimination

Gender discrimination in the workplace often takes the form of implicit or explicit bias on the part of male managers toward female employees. For example, a manager may enforce different standards of conduct for male and female employees, affording greater latitude to the former. Or the manager may simply favor male employees with respect to opportunities for assignments or promotions. In either case, such gender discrimination is clearly prohibited under New York law, and an employer may be held civilly liable for failing to treat all employees equally.

Alleged “Boys' Trips” Reflected “Culture” of Excluding Women

On September 18, 2018, a former sales executive at New York-based streaming music service Spotify USA, Inc., sued the company in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleging she was the victim of gender discrimination under state and city human rights laws. The plaintiff also named a former head of sales at Spotify–her supervisor at the time of the alleged discrimination–as a co-defendant.

The plaintiff, an Asian-American woman, said she worked as “Head of Sales, East,” at Spotify for three years. During her tenure, the plaintiff said she “became increasingly concerned about Spotify's culture with respect to its treatment of women.” She cited the co-defendant supervisor, whom she claimed “engineered” her termination “on baseless grounds.”

Specifically, the plaintiff alleged a number of incidents that promoted disparate treatment of men and women at the company. In 2016 and 2017, the plaintiff said Spotify “sponsored attendance of sales managers” at a popular film festival “for client networking purposes.” The co-defendant supervisor allegedly “selected a men-only group” to attend, excluding female sales managers such as the plaintiff. Internally, the plaintiff said these event were referred to as “boy's trips.” On other occasions, the plaintiff alleged other male managers “accompanied other (male only) Spotify managers to Atlantic City, purportedly as part of 'business,' where they visited strip clubs.”

More broadly, the plaintiff said senior Spotify management displayed an “attitude dismissive of women in the workplace.” She said one executive–the co-defendant supervisor's immediate boss–promoted a male employee after previously receiving “multiple warnings from the company” about sexual harassment. Spotify's chief financial officer purportedly “told a large audience of Spotify employees point blank at a company townhall Q&A session that he does not care about diversity at the company.”

Eventually, the plaintiff said she was fired after the co-defendant supervisor shifted blame to her for his own violation of internal company policy. She said the defendants then publicly defamed her by falsely stating in an “email to virtually everyone on the sales team” that she violated company rules. Accordingly, the plaintiff's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for gender discrimination and defamation.

Speak with a New York City Gender Discrimination Lawyer Today

As of this writing, Spotify has publicly declared the plaintiff's allegations are “without merit.” The company also said it does not “tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind at any level.” The lawsuit remains pending before Manhattan Supreme Court.

If you have experienced gender discrimination similar to the acts alleged in the case above, you should speak with a qualified New York employment attorney who can advise you of your rights. Contact the Law Offices of White, Nisar & Hilferty, LLP, if you need immediate assistance.

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