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October 19, 10

NEWS / Division on Civil Rights: Sony Music Settles with Man Who Charged Workplace Harassment

Company Agrees to Pay Ex-Employee Allegedly Harassed Over Homosexuality

TRENTON – The Division on Civil Rights announced today that Sony Music Holdings, Inc. has agreed to pay a former employee of its compact disc manufacturing plant in South Jersey $20,000 to resolve allegations the man was regularly harassed in the workplace because of his sexual orientation.

Sony Music, doing business as Sony DADC of Pitman, Gloucester County, has already paid former machine operator Charles E. Morgan the $20,000 settlement amount. In addition, Sony has agreed to provide Morgan a neutral reference if contacted by prospective employers in the future. Under the settlement, Sony makes no admission of wrong-doing.

“This is a fair settlement that resolves serious allegations – allegations of on-the-job bullying and harassment based on a person’s sexual orientation and a purported failure by management to effectively deal with the situation,” said Division on Civil Rights Director Chinh Q. Le. “There simply can be no tolerance for the kind of harassment alleged in this case. It is denigrating, it is unlawful and we are committed to holding accountable any employer who fails to address it.”

Morgan, of Philadelphia, was hired by Sony in a temporary capacity as a machine operator in October 2008. Morgan charged in his original complaint that, on at least three different occasions between May 2009 and August 2009, he approached Sony management to report being harassed on the job. Specifically, he complained on one occasion that his co-workers were making offensive comments about his homosexuality. On another occasion, Morgan reported that slurs were written about him in graffiti near his work site, and on a men’s room wall. On August 15, 2009, Morgan reported that a Sony co-worker told him "you’re too gay to sit here." Morgan alleged that, even after he reported the alleged harassment to Sony DADC managers, no action was taken. Instead, Morgan charged, Sony committed an act of reprisal by denying him promotion to full-time, permanent status as a machine operator.

Morgan told Division on Civil Rights investigators that his supervisor at Sony blamed his failure to be given full-time employment status on poor attendance, and a lack of qualifications. However, Morgan charged that heterosexual co-workers who were no more qualified than him, and who had less seniority, received such status. Morgan also alleged in his original complaint that Sony suspended him for three days in August 2009 as an act of reprisal.

During the Division’s investigation of the case, Sony DADC rejected Morgan’s charge that he was denied a "promotion." The company noted that Sony considered the change from temporary to permanent employment a change in job status, not a promotion.

Sony managers claimed they promptly investigated each of Morgan’s complaints and sought to address them. For example, they said they removed from Morgan’s department a co-worker who allegedly was "preaching" to him about his homosexuality. (Morgan acknowledged that this occurred.) In addition, Sony management said it held an employee staff meeting to re-emphasize and redistribute the company’s policy on Fair Employment Practices, which includes a section on "Freedom from Sexual and Other Forms of Harassment in the Workplace."

However, shortly after Morgan filed his complaint with the Division on Civil Rights on August 25, 2009, he was terminated, ostensibly for poor attendance.

Director Le thanked Division Investigator Alex Garcon, who helped negotiate the settlement and John Beauchamp, Regional Manager of the Division’s Camden office, for their work on the Sony DADC matter.




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