Activision Blizzard is being sued over sexual harassment and ‘frat boy’ culture within the company, by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Activision Blizzard, most known for World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo, has allegedly been fostering a “frat boy” culture. The California Department of Fair Employment claims that the firm’s female employees are subjected to sexual harassment, including groping and comments, as well as unequal pay. The Californian state agency has been investigating for the last two years, finding Activision Blizzard also guilty of discriminating about assignment, promotion, and termination. The agency also claims that women of color suffered from said discrimination more so than others.
Director of Fair Employment and Housing Kevin Kish declared: “All employers should ensure that their employees are being paid equally and take all steps to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. This is especially important for employers in male-dominated industries, such as technology and gaming.”
‘Frat Boy’ Culture And Cube Crawls
Bloomberg reports that according to the complaint filed last Tuesday, the “frat boy” culture included “cube crawls”; where male employees would get drunk and crawl through office cubicles, to often end up harassing female employees. The same lawsuit also indicates that one female employee ended up taking her own life during a work trip with her male supervisor. Claims mention that she was being sexually harassed before her suicide, including having nude photos of her shared during a company party.
Women working at Activision Blizzard were allegedly being prevented from getting promoted because they may become pregnant. They would be scrutinized for leaving work to pick up their children. Female employees would also allegedly be prevented from using lactation rooms so that male employees could use said rooms for meetings.
Sued Over Sexual Harassment: Activision Blizzard Responds
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson released the following statement in response:
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. 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 picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today.”
The Californian state agency now seeks relief in terms of compensatory damages, declaratory relief, equitable relief, punitive damages, and unpaid wages, amongst others.
This doesn’t bode well for Activision Blizzard, whose reputation has already been dwindling in the last few years for various reasons.