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News October 11, 2021

‘Systemic bullying, discrimination & misconduct’: Over 100 people break their silence on Sony Music Australia

Editorial Operations Manager
‘Systemic bullying, discrimination & misconduct’: Over 100 people break their silence on Sony Music Australia

Sony Music Australia staff were subjected to “systemic bullying, discrimination and misconduct under its long-serving CEO Denis Handlin”, tonight’s Four Corners exposé will claim.

The ABC’s Grace Tobin said what emerged during her investigation was a “pattern of abuse and a culture where discrimination and sexual misconduct were allowed to thrive”.

Tonight’s report involved speaking to over 100 current and former employees, with many going on the record about their experiences.

It will include details of seven women who were made redundant while on maternity leave over a six-year period, as well as a detailed report from the 1990s which delved into employees’ issues with Handlin.

“In the late ’90s, Sony’s head office in New York was alerted to Denis Handlin’s behaviour. An internal report obtained by Four Corners alleged he was often drunk, couldn’t treat women as equals and had employees followed by private detectives,” Tobin said in a radio report this morning, which can be heard below.

In a more detailed report online ahead of tonight’s episode, Tobin and fellow journalists Ali Russell and Lucy Carter delve further into the report, which claimed Handlin:

  • Was “abusive daily”
  • “Goes into frequent mad rages of screaming and bullying”
  • “Purposely sets out to destroy people for power”
  • “Constantly humiliates staff in meetings”
  • “Enjoys intimidating staff”
  • “Cannot treat women as equals”

Handlin denies the allegations.

“I have always provided support and encouragement to women in the industry and personally championed diversity. I would never tolerate treating women in an inappropriate or discriminatory manner,” he said in a statement to Four Corners, played on radio this morning.

The online report on tonight’s story also quotes Handlin as saying: “At any time I was made aware of this sort of behaviour, I took action to ensure that it was stopped and didn’t occur again.”

Staff who appear in the episode want Sony Music’s HQ in New York held accountable, saying there’s no way the claims are new and that the head office sat on the information for decades.

How did we get here? A timeline of Sony Music Australia’s upheaval 

12 April: Tony Glover sacked by Sony Music Australia over allegations of inappropriate behaviour
15 June: 
Sony Music Australia under investigation by head office for harassment & bullying
21 June: Sony Music Australia and New Zealand CEO Denis Handlin to depart
22 June: 5 questions that need answering after Denis Handlin’s exit
23 June: 
Sony Music’s Pat Handlin & Mark Stebnicki stood down as work culture investigation continues
24 June: ‘It is time for change’: Denis Handlin sends note to Sony Music Australia staff
24 June: Lawyers who previously represented Titus Day in battle against Guy Sebastian could bring class action against Sony Music Australia
28 June: Inside the Australian music industry’s toxic underbelly
12 July: Law firm considering class action against Sony Music Australia inundated with responses
26 August: Everybody Knows: A five-part investigation into Australia’s toxic music industry launches
31 August: Inside the investigation that will expose Australia’s music industry
1 September: Denis Handlin speaks: ‘I would never tolerate treating women in an inappropriate manner’
24 September: Wayne Ringrow departs Sony Music Australia
7 October: ‘Fear and intimidation’: Four Corners to reveal the inside story of Sony Music

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