Heads Roll In Activision Blizzard, A Class-Action Lawsuit Is Also Happening!

Two key members of Blizzard are no longer in their respective positions, the Activision Blizzard employees are not happy about the leadership’s approach, another lawsuit is filed against the publisher, and Bobby Kotick, the head of one of the biggest publishers of the industry, says there is no mercy…


Activision Blizzard‘s employees have written a joint letter to Kotick that they claim it’s a wrong choice on their end to hire WilmerHale, IGN reports. ABK Alliance, the employee group (effectively a workers union), denounces the firm, which Stephanie Avakian would lead. They claim there is a conflict of interest, as this law firm has “pre-existing relationships with Activision Blizzard and its executives,” it discouraged workers from unionizing and allegedly, Avakian has a history of “protecting the wealthy and powerful.”

Meanwhile, Blizzard’s president, J. Allen Brack, is no longer in this position, even though he hasn’t been a long-time company leader (he took over from the co-founder, Mike Morhaime, in 2018). His post was taken by two people, namely Mike Ybarra and Jen Oneal. Ybarra spent a lot of time at Microsoft (Xbox partner studios, Xbox Game Pass). At the same time, Oneal, the first female leader of Blizzard, headed Vicarious Visions before merging into Blizzard.

“I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change. I anticipate they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special” Brack wrote.

The investors filed a class-action lawsuit against Activision Blizzard (ActiBlizz onwards) as they claim it failed to disclose what an awful workplace it is, Ars Technica writes. The suit names the company, Kotick, as well as Dennis Durkin and Spencer Neumann (the current and the former chief financial officer, respectively) as individual defendants, alleging that the company made “false and misleading statements” between August 4 2016, and July 27 2021, in SEC filings that failed to disclose the company was a hostile workplace for women and minorities, that numerous complaints had been made to its HR department over the years, and that DFEH had launched an investigation as a result.

“As a result, Defendant’s statements about Activision Blizzard’s business, operations, and prospects were materially false and misleading and/or lacked a reasonable basis at all relevant times. Had Plaintiff and the other members of the Class been aware that the market price of Activision Blizzard securities had been artificially and falsely inflated by Defendants’ misleading statements and by the material adverse information which Defendants did not disclose, they would not have purchased Activision Blizzard securities at the artificially inflated prices that they did, or at all. As a result of the wrongful conduct alleged herein, Plaintiff and other members of the Class have suffered damages in an amount to be established at trial,” the document claims.

It also notes that over 2000 employees signed an open letter and that a walkout happened after the Californian DFEH filed its lawsuit. These led to a loss of share value, losing money for the investors, who bought them at “artificially inflated” prices because of misleading executive and company statements.

The lawsuit is not certified as a class-action one yet. Rosen Law Firm warns that until it is, nobody who applies would have legal representation unless they hire their lawyers independently. However, there is no legal obligation to participate at the moment. In the retention agreement, it added that it could apply to claim up to 33.3% of any amount recovered in the case “plus disbursements” (including travel expenses, paralegal fees, and more).

We have mentioned the human resources (HR) department of Blizzard before. Bloomberg reports that Jesse Meschuk, who formerly led this department, is no longer with the company. This department allegedly worked to cover up abuses and was deeply dysfunctional, Axios claims. It actively shielded abusers from punishment if there were complaints about them.

In one instance, a former employee (Nicki Broderick) claims she reported her manager after they got into a heated argument. He then refused to let her leave her desk or reach for her phone. Broderick claims that Blizzard’s HR representative said the manager was not at fault, and she felt retaliation against her for raising the issue: “I wasn’t given any new projects. I wasn’t considered for promotion three years after that incident.” Another employee reported a coworker for physically abusing her and said she was met with scepticism because she „wasn’t more hysterical.”

The employees also say the department had confusing and obscure protocols for reporting issues. It also lacked proper procedures for documenting reported abuses and even faced so much employee turnover that the department was stretched thin.

ActiBlizz published its financial results for the April-June quarter, and here, Kotick has talked about how there will be swift action to ensure a safe and welcoming work environment for all employees.

“There is no place at our company where discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind will be tolerated. Our work environment—everywhere we operate—will not permit discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment. We will be the company that sets the example for this in our industry. People will be held accountable for their actions. That commitment means that we will not just terminate employees where appropriate, but will also terminate any manager or leader found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences,” Kotick said.

The story is yet to continue.

Source: Gamesindustry, WCCFTech, PCGamer, PCGamer, PCGamer

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