California sues Activision Blizzard over sexual harassment

The lawsuit also accuses Activision Blizzard of a "frat boy workplace culture"

Content Warning: References to alleged harassment, suicide and abuse made below

Activision Blizzard faces a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing after accusations from employees that they’ve faced “constant sexual harassment, including groping, comments, and advances” in the workplace.

After two years of investigation, the suit alleges that women at Activision Blizzard were paid less than men in the same role and promoted more slowly too. Alongside that, a “frat boy workplace culture” has led to women being “subject to numerous sexual comments and advances, groping and unwanted physical touching, and other forms of harassment,” according to the filed lawsuit.

The complaint goes on to say that “female employees working for the World of Warcraft team noted that male employees and supervisors would hit on them, make derogatory comments about rape, and otherwise engage in demeaning behaviour,” with one former chief technology officer accused of “groping inebriated female employees at company events” as well as hiring applicants based on their looks.

Alongside the multiple examples was a story involving an employee suicide which the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing attributes to the harassment accusations.

In a similar vein to recent reports surrounding Ubisoft overlooking harassment complaints, Activision Blizzard human resources staff, including executives such as Blizzard President J. Allen Brack, have been accused as ineffective in the complaint-making process due to complaints being “treated in a perfunctory and dismissive manner and not kept confidential,” with staff, allegedly, “subjected to retaliation including but not limited to being deprived of work on projects”.

The suit goes on to claim that women of colour at Activision Blizzard were “particularly vulnerable targets” of discrimination, with one African American employee citing that her manager made her write a “one-page summary” of how she would spend time off that she had requested to take – something that no one else was made to do, according to her.

An Activision Blizzard spokesperson responded to The Verge regarding the claims stating that the filing includes “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past”. The statement also responded directly to the suggestion that an employee’s death by suicide was related to harassment, saying that “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.”

The story comes the same day as an investigation found harassment rife at Ubisoft Singapore.

For help and advice on mental health:

You May Like