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Spotify Faces Lawsuit Claiming Gender Discrimination, Equal Pay Violation

Former sales exec accuses management of orchestrating “boys’ trips,” attending strip clubs and defamation

A former Spotify sales exec filed a lawsuit against the streaming service for gender discrimination and equal pay violation.

Shutterstock / Christopher Penler

A former Spotify sales exec filed a lawsuit against the company Monday, accusing the streaming service of gender discrimination and equal pay violation.

In the lawsuit, filed at the Supreme Court of New York, former Spotify employee Hong Perez claimed that the company’s sales team, led by Head of U.S. Sales Brian Berner, discriminated toward women.

The lawsuit states an example of the alleged gender-biased nature of the company was when Berner selected an all-male sales team to attend the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and 2017, even though “there were several women in equally (if not more) senior sales positions than the men Berner selected to attend,” according to the complaint.

“These trips were referred to internally by employees as Berner’s ‘boys’ trips.’ Spotify employees spoke of drug use by the ‘boys’ at each trip. In addition, one of the male Spotify employees became involved in a physical altercation on one of the trips,” the lawsuit claims. “Yet, in stark contrast to how he would later act concerning a purported Code of Conduct violation by a woman, Berner took no action to investigate or discipline these men.”

Perez’s lawsuit also lists other examples of gender discrimination at the streaming service: An alleged trip by male-only Spotify managers to an Atlantic City strip club, a male employee who was allegedly promoted after a sexual harassment complaint was filed against him and a “Head of Human Resources who thought it appropriate to tell an all-hands meeting that his favorite curse word is ‘c#nt.'”

Perez also accused Berner of defamation, saying that she became “the proverbial scapegoat to protect himself when a contract process under his leadership came under scrutiny due to his procurement of concert tickets from a party to the contract during contract negotiations.” The incident led to Perez’s termination at Spotify.

The streaming service said of Perez’s lawsuit in a statement to Variety, “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.”

Perez is seeking “economic damages for past lost wages and benefits, including the value of equity incentives compensation, and future lost wages and benefits, including the value of equity incentives” as well as “damages for emotional distress and humiliation in an amount to be proven at trial.”


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