It’s not just Ubisoft that has misbehaviour within the company: now, we hear that Activision Blizzard’s working environment can also raise a few questions.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, and it claims that employees have faced „constant sexual harassment, including groping, comments, and advances,” all due to a „frat boy workplace culture.” This suit is coming after more than two years of investigation, and it also alleges that women at Activision Blizzard were paid less, and they also were going up the ladder slower than male employees. The publisher, as expected, is denying all of this.
„Women were subject to numerous sexual comments and advances, groping and unwanted physical touching, and other forms of harassment. 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,” the complaint reads. A former chief technology officer was accused of „groping inebriated female employees at company events and was known for making hiring decisions based on female applicants’ looks.” An example says that a former employee committed suicide, and the DFEH connects this unfortunate event to harassment.
The complaints, similarly to what Ubisoft had, point to the HR (human resources) staff, and even J. Allen Brack, Blizzard’s president, was named. The complaints „were treated in a perfunctory and dismissive manner and not kept confidential,” which then led to those complained being „subjected to retaliation, including but not limited to being deprived of work on projects, unwillingly transferred to different units, and selected for layoffs.”
Women of colour at Activision Blizzard were „particularly vulnerable targets” of discrimination. An „African American employee who worked in information technology [had to] write a one-page summary” of how she would spend time off she requested, but her higher-up didn’t request anyone else to ever do such a thing. Other women got lower-level roles and less of a wage, all „in favour of male counterparts who lacked the same experience or qualifications but who were friends with the male head of the unit.” They got the promotions, while the women haven’t. And another example: „A newly promoted male supervisor delegated his responsibilities to his now female subordinates in favour of playing Call of Duty.” The DFEH claims that „the parties involved were unable to resolve the administrative complaints,” and because of it, it’s requesting damages, unpaid wages, and compensation of an amount to be determined by a jury trial.
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson responded to the accusations in a statement that PCGamer received, claiming that the filing includes „distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past;” the DFEH was „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. 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,” the statement adds.