This is the direct sequel to
Things have gotten MUCH worse for Blizzard since then, with a massive lawsuit filed against it!
Activision Blizzard Sued Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture, Harassment
Video game giant Activision Blizzard Inc., maker of games including World of Warcraft and Diablo, fosters a “frat boy” culture in which female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation, according to a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
A two-year investigation by the state agency found that the company discriminated against female employees in terms and conditions of employment, including compensation, assignment, promotion, and termination. Company leadership consistently failed to take steps to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, the agency said.
According to the complaint, filed Tuesday in the Los Angeles Superior Court, female employees make up around 20% of the Activision workforce, and are subjected to a “pervasive frat boy workplace culture,” including “cube crawls,” in which male employees “drink copious amounts of alcohol as they crawl their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees.”
The agency alleges male employees play video games during the workday while delegating responsibilities to female employees, engage in sexual banter, and joke openly about rape, among other things.
Female employees allege being held back from promotions because of the possibility they might become pregnant, being criticized for leaving to pick their children up from daycare, and being kicked out of lactation rooms so male colleagues could use the room for meetings, the complaint says.
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 behavior, the agency alleges.
The suit also points to a female Activision employee who took her own life while on a company trip with her male supervisor. The employee had been subjected to intense sexual harassment prior to her death, including having nude photos passed around at a company holiday party, the complaint says.
The agency seeks an injunction forcing compliance with workplace protections, as well as unpaid wages, pay adjustments, back pay, and lost wages and benefits for female employees.
“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,” a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard said in a statement. “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,” the statement continued.
“The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today,” the company said.
Causes of Action: Employment discrimination because of sex; retaliation; failure to prevent discrimination and harassment; unequal pay.
Relief: Compensatory damages; punitive damages; unpaid wages; injunctive relief; declaratory relief; equitable relief; pre-judgment interest; attorneys’ fees; costs.
Attorneys: Internal counsel represents the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The case is Calif. Dep’t of Fair Emp. & Housing v. Activision Blizzard Inc., Cal. Super. Ct., No. 21stcv26571, 7/20/21.(Updated to include comment from Activision Blizzard.)
To contact the reporter on this story: Maeve Allsup in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org
For some background, watch this video by Blair, aka the iilluminaughtii:
She also just did this:
Want more about this uproar? Here is a whole series of videos by YongYea, a video game critic:
And here’s a related issue discussed by that same critic:
Here’s some more criticism from others:
And here’s MORE!
Developers say statements from management have “damaged our ongoing quest for equality”
Hundreds of current employees from across Activision Blizzard have signed a letter to the company’s management calling its response to a recent lawsuit alleging widespread sexual harassment and disclination at some of its offices “abhorrent and insulting.”
“Following the announcement from Activision Blizzard, and in light of the internal memo circulated by Frances Townsend, a group of over 800 employees from across all of Activision-Blizzard-King and its subsidiaries came together to take action,” a representative of the group told Kotaku. “Over the weekend we drafted an open letter to our leadership that is now gathering signatures from across our organizations, and have been working on next steps.”
That letter was sent to managers today, two sources confirmed, a full copy of which was shared with Kotaku and has been excerpted below:
To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard,
We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.
Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action — and the troubling official responses that followed — we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable.
We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees — as well as our community — have a safe place to speak out and come forward.
We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community, who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.
On July 20, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a complaint against Activision Blizzard accusing the Call of Duty and Overwatch publisher of a “frat boy” workplace culture based on a two-year investigation. In response. “DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past,” Activision Blizzard said in a statement in response, calling it the work of “unaccountable State bureaucrats.”
In the days that followed, leaders within the company offered their own responses. Some called the allegations in the complaint “troubling,” others, like Activision Blizzard chief compliance officer Frances Townsend, called the lawsuit “meritless” in a strongly-worded rebuke sent to Activision staff. A number of current Blizzard developers than began speaking out online to distance themselves from the company’s official response and criticize how leaders were handling the situation.
Today, UppercutCrit reported that Activision chief operating officer Joshua Taub held a contentious all-hands meeting with 500 staff discussing the company’s handling of the ongoing fallout. In it, he apparently encouraged employees to let the handling of these issues remain internal, including when it came to a question about staff unionizing. “The best way for protection is reaching out to your supervisors, hotline and avenues,” Taub responded, according to UppercutCrit.
Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“We appreciate the support of our fellow co-workers, past ABK employees, and our communities during this time,” a representative for the employee group that signed today’s letter, told Kotaku. “ Rest assured we intend to demand change, and hold our leaders and companies accountable to the values we signed onto when joining.”
What can I do about this? Two things:
I will NEVER play World of Warcraft again!
I will NOT purchase anything else related to Blizzard or Activision again. That company is dead to me! And it will remain so unless and until Activision Blizzard are split up and the leadership of Blizzard is replaced!