New lawsuit accuses Activision Blizzard of coercive and intimidating behaviour

Activision Blizzard has also hired a former Disney exec to improve the company's commitment to "diversity" and "inclusivity"

A new lawsuit has been filed against Activision Blizzard, this time by its own employees, which accuses the company of using intimidation and “coercive tactics” against efforts to improve working conditions.

As reported in Protocol, the lawsuit was filed by Communications Workers of America (CWA) – on behalf of Activision Blizzard employees as part of the “A Better ABK” collective, which has been organising for better working conditions. This includes openly discussing pay discrepancy and a desire to end forced arbitration.

The new suit filed to the National Labor Relations Board alleges that Activision Blizzard has used “coercive tactics” to undermine employees from organising, which would be a violation of federal labour laws. The allegations include the company telling employees “they cannot talk about or communicate about wages, hours and working conditions” and “they cannot communicate with or discuss ongoing investigations of wages, hours and working conditions”.


“If the NLRB rules in our favour, the ruling will be retroactive and we will set a precedent that no worker in the US can be intimidated out of talking about forced arbitration,” a spokesperson for the group wrote on Twitter.

“We are very inspired by the bravery of ABK workers, and we will always stand shoulder to shoulder with workers fighting harassment, assault, and discrimination,” CWA national organising director Tom Smith said in a press release.

“Management could have responded with humility and a willingness to take necessary steps to address the horrid conditions some ABK workers have faced. Instead Activision Blizzard’s response to righteous worker activity was surveillance, intimidation, and hiring notorious union busters.”

Activision Blizzard HQ
Credit: Activision Blizzard

Since the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, which alleged widespread sexual harassment, discrimination, and a “frat boy workplace culture”, the company has taken steps towards change, which saw the departure of a number of senior staff members, including Blizzard’s head of HR.


In a move that the company is describing as “a more inclusive workplace”, Activision Blizzard also announced the hire of Julie Hodges – senior vice president, corporate HR and compensation, benefits and talent acquisition at The Walt Disney Company – as its new chief people officer.

“I can’t think of a better person to join our team and help lead our ongoing commitment to an inclusive workplace,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said. “Julie is the seasoned leader we need to ensure we are the most inspiring, equitable and emulated entertainment company in the world.”

Hodges, who had spent 32 years at Disney, added, “I share the company’s belief that a work environment should welcome all perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds.”

“A workforce where everyone feels valued is critical to the success of our business, as is a trusting, engaging and safe environment that encourages creativity and innovation and in which all employees can thrive. It takes a collective effort to do this, and I’m looking forward to ensuring that we support the diversity of our talent to bring our people together and continue creating amazing entertainment.”

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