More than 40 former Sony Music Australia employees have contacted a Sydney law firm seeking advice about the possibility of taking action against the world’s second-largest record label, since allegations of a toxic workplace culture first aired and its Australian chief executive was removed in June.
A class action against the company has not been ruled out, and no decision has yet been made whether any proposed litigation will remain inside Australia or broadened to include Sony Music Entertainment’s global head office in New York.
The law firm MacDougall & Hydes confirmed to Guardian Australia that in recent weeks dozens of women and men from a broad range of the company’s operations had contacted its offices.
“Class actions are not straightforward, and a decision to institute one depends on many factors,” the firm’s principal Lauren MacDougall said.
“The first step is to speak to the individuals to ascertain what their complaint is and what their expectations are.
“At this time, it is simply far too soon to confirm the position.”
On 21 June, one of the most powerful men in Australian pop music, Denis Handlin, was dismissed as CEO of Sony Music Australia. It came a week after the Guardian approached Sony Music’s New York head office with multiple complaints from former employees alleging a toxic work environment at the company’s Australian arm.
The complaints, which are aimed broadly at the workplace culture rather than specific individuals, include allegations of sexual harassment at work events, intimidating behaviour, alcohol abuse and the unfair treatment of women in the workplace. They span more than two decades.
None of the former employees Guardian Australia spoke to made any allegations of sexual harassment against Handlin himself, although they were critical of the workplace culture at the company while Handlin was CEO.
Until the time of his dismissal, Handlin was Sony Music’s longest-serving employee, having spent 50 years at the label.