Pokémon Go maker Niantic accused of ‘systemic sexual bias’ in lawsuit


A former Niantic employee filed a lawsuit against the AR gaming company on Friday alleging it devalued the work of female employees and women of color and denied equal pay to female employees and women of color. The lawsuit, which seeks class action status, accuses Niantic of establishing a “boys’ club”. The employee was laid off as part of last week’s job cuts at the company, which affected around 230 staff.

The employee, who is an anonymous Jane Doe but is described in the complaint as an Asian woman, started at Niantic in February 2020 at a salary of $70,000, the complaint says. Later that year, she was promoted and given a raise to about $84,000, but in “about” 2021, she discovered that Niantic was paying a male colleague more money, even though she had a higher job title and more responsibilities than him.

In 2022, he reportedly received $127,000 a year, but she received $105,000 a year despite being one job grade higher. In or about spring 2023, she will receive an increase to $115,000 per year, still below her male colleague.

She discovered that she was paid more than $10,000 below the salary range of her job

Around the same time, the employee also saw Niantic posting the salary range for her job title and level — from 2023, California employers with more than 15 staff have to share salary ranges in job postings due to a pay transparency law — and saw her paid more than $10,000 less than the lower end of that range.

The employee discussed her concerns with other female staffers, and sexism and pay equity were raised in Wolfpack, the company’s women’s workforce group.

But when the employee took her concerns to Niantic’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Director and Principal People Partner, they “made it clear” that “she and male senior management at Niantic were hostile to her complaints or expressed concerns about sexism or sexual bias on the workplace. ‘ says the complaint.

The executives in the meeting also reportedly said her job ratings were affected by her discussing workplace issues with her colleagues, saying she was paid below range because she had expressed her concerns to her colleagues. According to the complaint, the employee then “immediately unsubscribed” from the Wolfpack group “out of fear that her association with Wolfpack would put Wolfpack employees or her at a disadvantage.”

This year, in a survey of staffers, Wolfpack found that “many female employees perceived Niantic as having a sexist work culture that disadvantages female employees” and a majority of respondents “expressed concerns about equal pay at Niantic,” according to the complaint. When those survey results were shared with upper management, “Niantic’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mike Quigley, required Wolfpack to remove references to Boys Club and similar comments about sexism in the workplace from their presentation to Wolfpack members about the survey’s results. .” The group was also told they could not question staff without permission from upper management.

Niantic did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit against Niantic is just the latest lawsuit against a major gaming company based on allegations made by female employees. The state of California sued Activision Blizzard in 2021, claiming it fostered a culture of “constant sexual harassment”, while Riot Games announced that year that it would pay $100 million to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit.

As part of the recent layoffs, CEO John Hanke reiterated the company’s focus on pokemon go, his cash cow. The company is struggling to find its next big hit, shutting down games based on Harry Potter, Katanand since last week the NBA game.