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