Former Employees Sue Pokémon Go Developer Niantic for Systemic Sex Discrimination
Foreign media outlet The Verge has reported that Niantic, the developer of the popular game Pokémon Go, is facing a lawsuit by former employees alleging systematic sex discrimination, particularly targeting women of color. The lawsuit is currently seeking more victims to join as part of a class action lawsuit.
According to the complaint filed by an Asian woman, she joined Niantic in February 2020 with a starting salary of $70,000. In that same year, she received a promotion and a salary increase to $84,000. However, she discovered in 2021 that a male employee with a lower rank than hers was earning a higher salary.
As the years went by, the pay gap between her and her male colleague widened. In 2022, despite holding a relatively high position, the man was earning $127,000 per year while she was earning $105,000. By spring 2023, she had received a raise to $115,000, but it still fell short of her colleagues’ salaries.
Furthermore, under California’s Transparency Pay Act, Niantic made the job title and salary range available to the public. The employee discovered that her salary was over $10,000 below the advertised minimum for her job title.
When the employee raised concerns internally, Niantic’s diversity equity and human resources colleagues informed her that the company’s male senior management was hostile towards issues of sexism or gender bias in the workplace.
She then joined a female-dominated group within the company to discuss the matter. However, Niantic’s senior executives warned her that discussing these issues with her colleagues might negatively impact her work evaluation, causing her to withdraw from the group out of fear of repercussion for herself and others.
The indictment stated that the female group conducted an investigation and found that many of its members actually believed that Niantic fostered a sexist work culture. When Niantic executives were notified of these findings, CEO Mike Quigley demanded that references to the company as a “boys club” and other sexist terms be removed. He also warned against conducting investigations on colleagues without the consent of senior executives.
In June, Niantic underwent a wave of layoffs, resulting in over 230 people losing their jobs, including some of the former employees involved in the lawsuit. Niantic has declined to comment on the matter at this time.