Sony is going through some major restructuring at the moment, replacing Howard Stringer at the top with long standing employee Kazuo Hirai and juggling some of the other higher executives around, giving them new titles and job descriptions. However this reshuffle is going on company-wide, as Sony moves away from hardware production, making quite a few positions redudant.
As part of this transition, the Japanese electronics firm is cleaning house, using its personnel department to categorise the lower performing employees into groups for retraining and others being recommened for administrative leave or a change of job entirely.
The original report (translation at Kotaku) suggests that Sony is even going as far as using company doctors to recommend leave and early retirement for certain officials with the company, based on their mental health.These actions are being termed "underhanded" by reporters, suggesting that Sony's actions - while not massively uncommon in Japanese corporations - are not being considered fair.
While CEO Kazuo Hirai has been unofficially in charge for some time now, the official handover from Stringer happened on 1st April. Other big changes involved Michael Lynton becoming head of Sony Music and its publishing arm SONY ATV, while Nicole Seligman will be taking over the role as head of Sony America.
As part of his promotion to head of the firm, Hirai said that he hoped to take the electronics arm of Sony in hand and make it profitable again. In his time as top dog of the company's entertainment and PlayStation division, he was credited with creating and maintaining their profitability over the past decade and a half.