Lawsuit Issued to Activision Blizzard Over Sexual Harassment and “Frat Boy” Culture

While we here at MP1st has usually refrained from posting news not related to gaming, the Activision-Blizzard lawsuit regarding workplace sexual harassment, and toxicity among women was a tad too much that we want to make people aware that this is happening, and is is a serious allegation against the Call of Duty publisher.

Activision-Blizzard is facing some major allegations, as the state of California has filed for a lawsuit against the publisher over a number of explicit, and highly detailed, sexual harassment incidents against it’s employees.

As reported by Bloomberg, the court documents, which can be read here, go into grueling details of the mistreatment that many women faced while employed at the company during during the two year investigation done by the DHA. It goes to detail that male employees would often make sexual jokes, and openly talk about rape at the workplace in front of their female colleagues. 

DHA notes that the company’s workforce comprises of 20% of female, and that they are subjected to a “frat boy” culture with male employees consuming alcohol while on the job and crawling through cubicles while making sexual suggestions towards the women workers.

What’s more, women who were pregnant or otherwise expecting would be given lower roles, pay, and even be passed on possible promotions.

 “assigned women to lower paid and lower opportunity levels and roles, delayed their career advancement, denied them promotional opportunities afforded to their male counterparts, and refused to promote women because they might get pregnant even when women performed higher level work for extended periods of time.”

Women of color faced even harsher sexual harassment, as they would be singled out and micromanaged, according to the court docs.

Even worse, one unnamed female employees allegedly committed suicide due to the harassment after an employee shared some very private photos of her with co-workers.

A follow up statement from Activision was received from the Verge, claiming that the DHE is falsifying the report:

We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind. We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.

The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived. They were required by law to adequately investigate and to have good faith discussions with us to better understand and to resolve any claims or concerns before going to litigation, but they failed to do so. Instead, they rushed to file an inaccurate complaint, as we will demonstrate in court. We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to drag into the complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose passing has no bearing whatsoever on this case and with no regard for her grieving family. While we find this behavior to be disgraceful and unprofessional, it is unfortunately an example of how they have conducted themselves throughout the course of their investigation. It is this type of irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.

The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today. Over the past several years and continuing since the initial investigation started, we’ve made significant changes to address company culture and reflect more diversity within our leadership teams. We’ve amplified internal programs and channels for employees to report violations, including the “ASK List” with a confidential integrity hotline, and introduced an Employee Relations team dedicated to investigating employee concerns. We have strengthened our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and combined our Employee Networks at a global level, to provide additional support. Employees must also undergo regular anti-harassment training and have done so for many years.

We put tremendous effort in creating fair and rewarding compensation packages and policies that reflect our culture and business, and we strive to pay all employees fairly for equal or substantially similar work. We take a variety of proactive steps to ensure that pay is driven by non-discriminatory factors. For example, we reward and compensate employees based on their performance, and we conduct extensive anti-discrimination trainings including for those who are part of the compensation process.

We are confident in our ability to demonstrate our practices as an equal opportunity employer that fosters a supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace for our people, and we are committed to continuing this effort in the years to come. It is a shame that the DFEH did not want to engage with us on what they thought they were seeing in their investigation.

We’re gonna level with all our readers here. This is very sickening to read, and in no way do we support these acts at anytime, be it in the work place, or at at home, in public, anywhere. While these claims are all allege, meaning they need to be verified before any due process can be passed, there is an obligation we must uphold in reporting these claims to the public. No one should ever have to be treated like this, nor should anyone ever have to be scared to go into work, or out in public because of this. It’s disgusting, and disrespectful.

This needs to change, as a industry, no as people, we are better than this.

We will continue to monitor this as it develops further but hopefully a resolution is reached and if this is found to be true, the involved parties are dealt with.

James Lara

A gamer at heart, James has been working for MP1st for the last decade to do exactly what he loves, writing about video games and having fun doing it. Growing up in the 90's gaming has been in his DNA since the days of NES. One day he hopes to develop his own game.

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