Spotify sued over executives' alleged gender discrimination

Pay gaps and exclusion from events are just the start.

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Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Spotify has been accused of turning a blind eye to sexism in its workplace. Former sales executive Hong Perez has sued the streaming service over allegations that male execs have perpetuated systemic gender discrimination. The global head of sales reportedly provided higher compensation (including equity) to men, while multiple male executives received little punishment (and in one case, a promotion) despite sexual harassment claims.

On top of this, Perez described an overall hostile work culture, particularly from US sales head (and her boss) Brian Berner. He allegedly chose only men for drug-addled "boys' trips" to the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and 2017, excluding women who were better-qualified for the ostensibly work-oriented visits. He also purportedly scapegoated Perez after getting in trouble over a buyer deal and taking free Madison Square Garden tickets, getting her fired for conduct violations that were really his.

Pereze added that she'd raised concerns over the lack of anti-harassment action with Spotify's human resources team before she left.

In a statement, Spotify claimed it doesn't tolerate discrimination "at any level" but simultaneously insisted Perez's lawsuit was "without merit." Whether or not that's true, these are serious accusations that the court is unlikely to dismiss out of hand. Gender discrimination and harassment are nothing new in tech companies, and Perez is describing what could be a widespread toxic culture rather than just one or two rogue employees.

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