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Sony Music Australia could face class action lawsuit over toxic corporate culture

By | Published on Thursday 24 June 2021

Sony Music

A dozen former employees of Sony Music in Australia have approached a law firm in Sydney to discuss a possible class action lawsuit against the music major in relation to allegations of bullying and harassment, with a lawyer at said firm encouraging other staff members past and present to come forward if they have similar complaints.

It follows the announcement on Monday that the long-time chief of Sony Music Australia, Denis Handlin, was departing the company with immediate effect, which in turned followed reports that the major’s US HQ was now investigating claims of a toxic corporate culture at its Australian division.

As Handlin’s departure was confirmed, The Guardian published an article based on interviews with more than 20 former employees at Sony Music Australia that included allegations of sexual harassment at work events, intimidating behaviour, alcohol abuse and the unfair treatment of women in the workplace. Handlin himself was not accused of harassment, however many of the interviewees were critical of the outgoing CEO for overseeing such a toxic working environment.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Lauren MacDougall from law firm MacDougall And Hydes has confirmed that she has been approached by multiple former Sony Music employees regarding possible legal action.

She said: “I have been approached by a number of women who were seeking legal advice in relation to claims of bullying and harassment during their time at Sony Music Australia. I would encourage any other women or men to come forward. Depending on how many people come forward and what they have to say there is the potential of a class action”.

MacDougall added that she is still to talk to some of the people who have been in touch with her firm and therefore is not yet able to comment on what specific form any class action might take.

The Herald also reports that at least one of the women who has contacted MacDougall And Hydes has appointed the law firm to represent her as part of Sony’s own internal investigation.

Explaining why such representation was required, the newspaper quotes one former employee as saying: “Sony Music has let us down time and time again, many of us don’t feel safe speaking with the organisation or its local counsel. It’s comforting to know there is finally someone out there representing our rights that can support us in navigating the complexities of this process”.