On July 20th, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. The lawsuit alleges that Blizzard is discriminating against the women who work there. They allowed or in some cases even encouraged a culture to form where sexual harassment and sexual assault occur at the workplace.
Start of it all
Journalist and writer Jason Schrier first broke the story. It is clear from reading the lawsuit that the state of California has been looking into Activision Blizzard for a very long time. To be more precise, since October 12th, 2018. They launched a two-year investigation that eventually brought in the Activision side of the company as well. The DFEH lists 10 unnamed John Doe’s as their defendants. Essentially they believe that these companies and these ten unnamed defendants are ultimately responsible for the harassment and discrimination that the woman who worked at Activision Blizzard face.
Allegations against Activision Blizzard
Allegedly, they discriminated against the women who worked there with regards to equal pay, equal opportunities, retaliation, and many other aspects of the job.. The DFEH lists multiple examples from their investigation. One woman alleges she was assigned a lower-level role and that she was denied equal pay to her male colleagues. She asked for a promotion. Blizzard told her to wait her turn, while they promoted men who were hired after her.
Many similar cases were reported by multiple women that worked at Blizzard
Another woman alleges that she was passed over for promotion. In favor of men who were friends with her head of the unit. The investigation found that one supervisor delegated all of his new responsibilities to women. Meanwhile, he played Call of Duty all day. That example also includes a note saying that some supervisors allegedly wouldn’t talk to women at all. Instead, they would only get their information from male subordinates.
The DFEH says that the women they spoke to at Activision Blizzard compared it to working in a frat house. There was a pattern of sexual harassment and assault with men regularly hitting on women, making sexual comments and rape jokes, groping them without serious repercussions, and so on.
Women who worked on the World of Warcraft team allege that they were regularly the subject of rape jokes. The supervisors knew about them and either didn’t acknowledge the jokes or outright encouraged them. The allegations include breasts being touched without consent, a male supervisor telling a subordinate to quote buy a prostitute when he gets in a bad mood, and cube crawls which were allegedly what happened when men would get drunk and physically crawl through women’s cubicles to engage in inappropriate behavior.
The worst case of them all
One woman who worked for Activision blizzard committed suicide while on a business trip. After she was a target of sexual harassment. Her male supervisor who accompanied her on the trip passed around pictures of her private parts at a holiday party. The police found he had brought lube on the trip. The DFEH states that complaints were sent to the human resource department and to Blizzard president J Allen Brack but there were few if any repercussions
As for what Activision Blizzard has to say about this.. Well, they’re denying the allegations in a statement provided to Polygon. They write the picture that the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today. Over the past several years, we made significant changes to address company culture and reflect more diversity within our leadership teams.
Blizzard’s miserable counterattack
Activision Blizzard’s statement accused the DfEH of painting an untrue or distorted view of events that happened at Blizzard HQ. They also accused them of not participating in good faith negotiations before going forward to litigation. Notably, the lawsuit states that the DFEH had three mediation sessions with the company in July before the lawsuit was filed. Activision Blizzard finished the statement by writing: 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 DfE H did not want to engage with us on what they thought they were seeing in their investigation. Strangely the statement also includes a bizarre section where Activision Blizzard accused the DfEH of overstepping their boundaries.
Is this the end of Activision Blizzard?
Once the news of this lawsuit broke out, World of Warcraft forums was flooded by people saying they have cancelled their subscription and calling everyone else to do the same. Over the years Blizzard has released amazing games and has captured the lives of million of gamers. With their inadequate response to the lawsuit, it is only right that they’re losing a lot of supporters.