Report: Widespread Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination at Nintendo of America

Report: Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination at Nintendo of America

A new report has revealed another gaming workplace culture brimming with sexual harassment and gender discrimination: Nintendo of America. Through interviews with female employees at Nintendo, Kotaku pulled several reports of harassment by colleagues and pay inequality compared to male counterparts.

One former game tester, Hannah, recounted how she was retaliated against after reporting inappropriate sexual comments by a Nintendo employee in a workplace group chat. After reporting the behavior, she was told to be less outspoken. Hannah also found that she was being paid $3 less than a junior male tester and had an extra difficult time trying to get a pay increase. Hannah was also subject to sexual orientation-based harassment by male colleagues who she rejected advances from, including being told “Oh, you’re a lesbian. That’s kind of sad.”

Other female game testers had similar experiences as Hannah. Some employees spoke of a product testing lead who frequently commented on women’s weight and appearance. Because he was in charge of deciding contractors’ schedules, female testers were forced to endure his harassment.

Another alleged abuser of power, was from a more senior tester, who would stalk another contractor, but when she tried to report him he threatened to fire her. Further, a common complaint, was the lack of advancement and promotion opportunities compared to male counterparts at Nintendo.

Company chief Doug Bowser did not respond to Kotaku’s questioning but did previously address sexual harassment and sexist toxicity reports about Activision Blizzard, calling the accounts distressing and disturbing. Bowser proceeded to say that they ran counter to Nintendo’s values; however, this Kotaku report paints a different picture. The testers who spoke out in the publication are just some of the contractors who have been victim to the harassment, discrimination, and retaliation at Nintendo of America.

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Report: Apple Ignored and Retaliated Against Employees’ Complaining of Misconduct and Sexual Assault

Apple Retaliation

A report by The Financial Times has been released about Apple’s toxic culture of apathy and retaliation against employees’ serious complaints of colleague and employer misconduct, including reports of sexual assault. In a company that boasts of its inclusiveness and its boost in diversity, these allegations cast a shadow on the company. 

Multiple women have filed complaints of sexual abuse, bullying and other misconduct. Former employee Megan Mohr complained of a colleague removing her clothes while asleep and taking pictures of her during a platonic night out. In response, Apple HR described the allegations as “reprehensible” and “potentially criminal,” however because the employee did not violate Apple policy, nothing was done in response to Mohr’s complaint. 

Another complaint involved an Apple Store employee complaining about two instances of sexual assault including rape. Instead of listening to her complaints, HR treated her as the problem saying that after the accused individual returned from a 6 month “career experience,” she should be feeling better by the time he returned. After she was denied a transfer request, she was left continuing work at the same store as the accused. 

Another instance of HR ignoring its employees’ concerns was when an Apple IP attorney complained of a “toxic work environment” and “gaslighting” coming from a male vice-president who intended to fire her with false allegations that predated her arrival at Apple. HR reportedly ignored her allegations. 

The report also lists several employees complaining of Apple suppressing worker organizing and blocking message boards used by employees to make complaints of management misconduct and pay inequity. Apple retaliated against one software engineer, Cher Scarlett, after complaining to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and had been offered a severance demanding she turn in the NLRB complaint that list other employees’ names. She only accepted after Apple withdrew the demand, but she was forced to pull the complaint. However, after Apple said “it supports employees’ rights to freely speak” to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Scarlett leaked her complaint to the media which led to eight US state treasurers to ask the SEC to investigate Apple. 

A director in the legal department, Jayne Whitt, was reported to have told HR about a colleague who hacked her devices and threatened her life. Instead of taking it seriously, the investigative unit said she acted unprofessionally during their meeting during a time when Whitt was begging for help and reliving trauma. As a result, Whitt posted an essay describing the situation, which prompted an outpour of Apple employees’ support. However, Apple went on to fire her for an irrelevant six-year-old indiscretion, and Whitt now challenges Apple legally after she opened her eyes to the struggle of women in the company—especially with gender-pay disparity

Apple claims it thoroughly investigates misconduct allegations and strives to create an environment open to reporting from employees. However, Apple acknowledged its unmet ideals in some accounts, including those reported by The Financial Times, and admits these complaints should have been handled differently. Apple claims it will accordingly make changes to training and processes.

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NYC Bar Sweet & Vicious Owner Pays $500K To Staff In Sexual Harassment Case

NYC Bar Sweet & Vicious Owner Pays $500K To Staff In Sexual Harassment Case

The owner of Sweet & Vicious, a Manhattan-based bar, has agreed to pay a $500,000 settlement after sexually harassing and demeaning female and minority employees. According to filings made by New York Attorney General Letita James, Hakan Karamahmutoglu allegedly used sexist slurs such as “b–hes” and “cows,” he stole their tips, and allowed male managers and customers to threaten, and physically harass female staff.

The investigation of the allegations went on for 16 months and has concluded in a settlement to be split between 16 current and former workers.

The probe uncovered a hostile work culture where management turned their backs on customers harassing and physical threatening female bartenders. Management allowed customers to threaten stabbing, rape, physical assault, and allowed them to throw glasses at the women.

Investigations also revealed male managers being allowed to sexually harass the women. One male manger kissed and rubbed his body against one of the women and in another incident a manager made a sexual remark about a worker’s underwear.

During Interviews, the women told of the owner making harassing comments, touching and grabbing the employees, saying “I’m the owner, I can do what I want.” Additionally, he would use derogatory language in reference to the women and minority employees, saying things like “gangster” in reference to the black security guards, and calling a Puerto Rican manager a “terrorist” and “Puerto Rican trash.” He also told a female bartender “I like your fat black ass” and used homophobic slurs.

To make matters worse, the women were also made to work overtime without pay, their tips were stolen, and were denied meal and rest breaks. When a drunk customer threw a glass at a bartender’s head, the managers turned their backs. Anytime the women would raise concerns about the unsafe work environment, they were ignored.

In a press conference the women expressed how Hakan and the rest of management at the bar created a racist, sexist, and homophobic environment. One of them stated they were glad to hold the bar accountable and hoped it would discourage other like-minded employers in the industry from subjecting employees to similar harassment.

Karamahmutoglu denied all allegations saying they are untrue and do not reflect his character, stating that he only signed the agreement to bring closure to the whole thing. Along with the settlement, the company agreed to strengthen anti-sexual harassment and discrimination policies and be periodically monitored by the AG’s office.

The hospitality industry is riddled with a culture of unreported sexual harassment and discrimination. State law protects workers’ right to work in an environment free of sexual harassment, and the food service industry is no exception and cannot go unchecked.

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Sexual Harassment Complaints Ignored by Walgreens For a Year Leads to Murder of Teenager

Sexual Harassment Complaints Ignored by Walgreens For a Year Leads to Murder of Teenager

A teenager who was found dead at a Colorado Springs Walgreens had allegedly made sexual harassment complaints about the man now accused in her death about a year before her death.

According to arrest papers, 16-year-old Riley Whitelaw had verbally complained to store managers in 2021 about coworker Joshua Johnson’s unwanted sexual advances towards her and how he made her uncomfortable.

One year after her sexual harassment complaint, Riley is found dead in the break room of the Walgreens she worked at.  Johnson was taken into custody on charges of first-degree murder.

The arrest reports describe officers having found Riley’s body bloodied with neck injuries and no signs of life on the floor of the break room. Surveillance video showed Johnson stacking bins in front of the surveillance camera. The break room windows were also found taped over and the restroom-closed sign was in the area to keep people away. Riley’s body was found by the manager after he had viewed the surveillance. Johnson was arrested by state troopers the following day outside the city when they spotted him on the side of the interstate covered in cuts and bruises. He gave a story of being attacked at a Walgreens in Colorado Springs. When the troopers checked with Colorado Springs PD, they learned he was a suspect and was transported back to Colorado Springs where he’s being held without bond at El Paso County Jail.

In an interview, Johnson claims he went in the break room and fell in the blood and went home to change his clothes. He denied obstructing the camera and allegedly acknowledged having a crush on Riley at one point but then losing interest. 

Police interviews state otherwise. One of the managers reported that Riley had asked for a schedule change to avoid Johnson and was showing signs of jealousy when Riley’s boyfriend started working.

Sexual harassment is prohibited under California and federal law. It is illegal for employers to allow anyone to be sexually harassed at work. 

This is another reason why employers need to take immediate and strong corrective action when sexual harassment complaints are made.  Had Riley’s complaints been taken seriously, she may still be alive.

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Wage and Hour Violations – Case Example

Wage and Hour Case Example

Cecil was one of several employees misclassified as exempt from overtime by her employer. California’s Labor Code only allows select professionals, managers, and administrators to be exempt from overtime pay and breaks.    

Cecil’s employer intentionally misclassified her and her coworkers as exempt to avoid paying them anything for overtime worked.  Cecil and her co-workers regularly worked dozens of hours a week of overtime for no pay whatsoever.  

Further, Cecil’s employer failed to provide duty-free meal and rest periods and failed to pay one additional hour of pay for each duty-free meal or rest period that was not provided in accordance with California law.

We helped Cecil and her co-workers get a substantial settlement. 

If you believe you have been misclassified as an exempt employee and not paid overtime, our firm may be able to get you justice too. Give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free intake.

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SNL Cast Members Named As Alleged Witnesses To Sexual Assault In Newest Statement By Victim

SNL Sexual Assault Case

The Jane Doe plaintiff suing NBC and Horatio Sanz in a sexual assault case has made a new statement where she named several Saturday Night Live cast members as alleged witnesses to Sanz’s sexual assault of her. Amongst the named witnesses in the statement are Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, and Seth Meyers.

Jane Doe sued NBC and Sanz summer of 2021 alleging that Sanz had groomed her since she was 15 years old and he had groped her at a 2002 SNL afterparty. Doe was 17 years old at the time of the alleged assault. Doe recently made a statement in which she claimed that several cast members were within eyesight of the assault incident at the party.

Sanz had allegedly groped Doe in full view of his colleagues. Doe states that she and Ana Gasteyer made eye contact while Sanz groped her and Gasteyer was visibly startled in response. She also states that she saw Fey and Dratch looking at Sanz and Doe and were also visibly startled. Also named in her statement were Seth Meyers and Maya Rudolph who were facing them and Doe describes Rudolph looking disgusted.

In the statement, Doe states that she expressed her discomfort and desire to leave to Sanz but was dismissed by him despite the stares.

NBC denies liability for Sanz’s behavior, in their support of the company’s motion to dismiss the complaint. Sanz’s attorney also issued a denial last year, describing Doe’s allegations as false and claiming that Doe repeats her allegations and ropes in high-profile names to generate media attention.

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Amazon Accused of Systemic Disability Discrimination by New York State Agency

Amazon Disability Discrimination

The New York State Division of Human Rights has accused Amazon of discriminating against pregnant and disabled workers at its worksites.

A complaint was filed by the Agency claiming that Amazon has policies requiring workers to take unpaid leaves of absences even if they are capable of working, instead of providing reasonable accommodations.

The complaint blames Amazon for allowing worksite managers to ignore in-house accommodation consultants who recommend providing modified schedules or job responsibilities.

As per state law, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers who request them. “Disability” under California law is defined very broadly and can include many temporary medical conditions that can cause people to need time off or changes to their work duties. This includes employees with pregnancy-related medical conditions, which can also be considered disabilities.

In the complaint, Amazon is described to have forced one pregnant worker to continue lifting 25 pounds and put her on indefinite unpaid leave after she got injured. Additionally, it describes Amazon reversing recommendations to modify work schedules for two disabled employees, after the managers resisted the change.

The complaint seeks unspecified civil fines and penalties, which can go up to $50,000 for violations, or $100,000 for willful conduct. The complaint also calls for improved training and new policies for review of requests for reasonable accommodations.

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2018 Sexual Harassment Settlement Against Elon Musk Comes to Light

2018 Sexual Harassment Claims Come Out About Elon Musk

Details have been released about a $250,000 settlement that SpaceX paid to quiet a sexual harassment claim against Elon Musk in 2018.

The flight attendant was contracted on SpaceX’s corporate jet. She accused Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, of exposing himself to her, rubbing her leg without his consent, and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage.

The 2016 incident was supported by a declaration made by a friend of the attendant and in email correspondence.

According to the declaration, the attendant confided to her friend that after taking the SpaceX job, she was encouraged to get licensed as a masseuse so she could give Musk massages and get to fly more often. She told her friend that Musk had propositioned her during one such massage on Musk’s Gulfstream Jet.

In the declaration, the flight attendant tells her friend that during a massage on a flight to London, Musk, who was only wearing a sheet covering his lower body, exposed his genitals, touched her thigh and offered to buy her a horse if she would “do more,” referring to sex acts. The attendant declined. The friend described the attendant as distraught, visibly upset, and full of anxiety when she told her about the incident.

After the incident, the flight attendant felt that she was retaliated against as her shifts were cut. She felt she was being punished for refusing to prostitute herself.

In 2018, the flight attendant hired an employment lawyer. The complaint was settled for $250,000 in exchange for a promise to not sue over the claims. The agreement included a non-disclosure and non-disparagement clause.

The attendant’s friend was the one who decided to come forward about what she was told about Musk. Unlike the flight attendant, she was not bound by a non-disclosure agreement. As a survivor of sexual assault, she felt a responsibility to bring Musk’s misconduct to light. This friend felt it was important for her to speak up in order to not let predators go without accountability, especially wealthy and powerful individuals like Musk, who can cover up their wrongdoings by throwing money at it.

Non-disclosure agreements are crucial components of the system that allows for this lack of accountability. Later in 2018, just months after the flight attendant signed her agreement, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the “Stand Against Non-Disclosure Act” which bars the use of NDAs in sexual harassment/assault settlements going forward.

The flight attendant’s allegation is the only known misconduct claim against Musk himself; however, both his companies have faced a number of allegations of sexual harassment.

Musk has responded saying that the timing of the story is politically motivated.

The flight attendant’s friend hopes her publication of Musk’s misconduct inspires others who were mistreated by Musk to come forward.

Do you think Elon Musk committed sexual harassment? Do you think the flight attendant’s friend purposely chose to hold back coming forward until now?

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US Soccer Makes Landmark Deal to Pay Men’s and Women’s National Teams Equally

US Soccer Makes Landmark Deal to Pay Men’s and Women’s National Teams Equally

After a group of top women’s players sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination in 2019, US Soccer has announced that they will have new contracts that will pay both women’s and men’s teams equally. This landmark decision will also include splitting World Cup prize money. 

These collective bargaining agreements were made after a decades-long fight by the U.S Women’s National Team (USWNT) for equal pay and fair treatment. 

The women’s national team has been recognized as U.S. Soccer’s most successful team, winning 4 Olympic gold medals and more World Cups than any other country. Contentions over the gender pay gap grew after the women’s consecutive World Cup championships in 2015 and 2019, while the men’s team failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament. 

In 2019, top women’s players sued U.S. Soccer for inequalities in treatment and pay, and won the lawsuit. U.S. Soccer agreed to pay $24 million to settle once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was made.

As part of the latest bargaining deal, the USWNT will get $7.2 million in this year’s pool and includes a 68 percent increase to $120,000 for what players can earn in this summer’s World Cup qualifying tournament. These agreements run through 2028 and covers two World Cup cycles. 

Unlike the vast disparities in past distributions of FIFA’s prize money, under the new deals, U.S. Soccer will put 90 percent of the prize money from both the men’s and women’s World Cups into a pool for players to split. This is a groundbreaking move for U.S. Soccer as no other federation has gone as far as splitting World Cup prize money. 

Also included under the deals:

1/ U.S. Soccer will share commercial revenues with the players; 

2/ Both Men’s and Women’s games will be played on similar surfaces (grass or turf);

3/ Travel budgets will be comparable and both teams will have equal number of charter flights;

4/ U.S. Soccer agreed to establish protections to prevent harassment and other misconduct such as ability to anonymously report abuse.  More than a half-dozen players accused U.S. Soccer of willful inaction following abuse by coaches;

5/ Expanding parental benefits like childcare to not only USWNT but also for USMNT.

Now that new collective bargaining agreements have been made, the 2019 settlement can be finalized. With the decades long fight now settled, all that is left for the USWNT is to focus on the World Cup!

In many places, including under California law, paying less to one gender for the same work is illegal.  The movement towards gender pay equity is here to stay.  But, for the most part, men and women’s professional sports have not been considered equal.  Think NBA vs. WNBA.  Do you think this precedent will change pay practices in other women’s professional sports?

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LinkedIn Paying $1.8 million in Gender Pay Discrimination Case

LinkedIn to pay $1.8 Million in Pay Discrimination Settlement

As part of a settlement in a gender-based pay discrimination case, LinkedIn is set to pay $1.8 million in back wages to approximately 700 female employees.

The U.S. Labor Department investigators had made a pay discrimination complaint against LinkedIn, the career-networking platform, after a routine compliance evaluation found that from March 2015 to March 2017, LinkedIn failed to comply with equal pay law. The employer had been underpaying about 700 female workers in its San Francisco and Sunnyvale, California offices. The affected women were being paid less than men in comparable job roles in its Engineering, Product, and Marketing Departments.

Though LinkedIn has agreed to settle, the company denies the government’s claims of pay discrimination and insists that their models didn’t identify pay disparities, stating that LinkedIn has paid employees fairly and equitably. LinkedIn officials quote a pay study conducted in 2021 that found female employees earning $.99 for every $1 earned by a male employee, and that in the U.S., employees of color earned the same as White employees.

However, the Labor Department’s analysis found significant pay disparities. Federal laws ban any discriminatory pay practices especially in companies like LinkedIn that contracts with the government. As part of the settlement, LinkedIn is expected to pay $1.8 million in back pay and interest to resolve the violations.

The breakdown will be as follows:
• Sunnyvale Engineering: $719,592 in back pay plus $13,120 in interest
• Sunnyvale Product: $370,974.00 in back pay plus $13,120.00 in interest.
• San Francisco Engineering: $232,448.00 in back pay plus $13,120.00 in interest.
• San Francisco Marketing: $424,506.00 in back pay and $13,120.00 in interest.

LinkedIn also agreed to host a staff-training program to ensure compliance with non-discrimination policy and will evaluate that staff salaries are gender neutral for the next 3 years and make salary adjustments accordingly. LinkedIn will also revise its compensation policies and allow reporting to guarantee compliance with federal contract obligations. The Labor Department hopes these changes ensure LinkedIn understands its obligations as a federal contractor.

In addition to these federal laws, California has strict gender pay equity laws that requires women be paid the same as men for equal work.

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Shirazi Law Firm, PC

Shirazi Law Firm, PC

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Phone: 310 400 5891
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