Activision Blizzard, the publishing big behind all the pieces from Call of Duty to Overwatch, is being sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over a “frat boy” office tradition that it alleges has led to years of harassment and abuse focusing on the ladies in its workforce.
Content warning: suicide, harassment, rape
Bloomberg reports that the suit, filed on July 20, is the fruits of a two-year investigation into the writer by the Department, which says that Activision Blizzard’s “compliance with California’s broad workplace protections is long overdue”.
“To enforce such compliance”, the case says, “DFEH brings this government enforcement action seeking to remedy, prevent and deter [Activision Blizzard’s] violations of state’s civil rights and equal pay laws.”
While stating the dearth of girls in management positions on the firm, and the difficulties they’ve confronted in gaining promotions, the go well with additionally highlights huge pay discrepancies on the govt degree between men and women, and says girls are usually not solely promoted extra slowly, they’re additionally terminated “more quickly than their male counterparts”.
The firm’s “frat boy” office tradition can also be talked about, as a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women”. Some of the examples supplied embody:
In the workplace, girls are subjected to “cube crawls” wherein male staff drink copious [quantities] of alcohol as they “crawl” their approach by way of numerous cubicles within the workplace and sometimes interact in inappropriate conduct towards feminine staff. Male staff proudly come into work hungover, play video video games for lengthy durations of time throughout work whereas delegating their duties to feminine staff, interact in banter about their sexual encounters, speak overtly about feminine our bodies and joke about rape.
Female staff are subjected to fixed sexual harassment, together with having to repeatedly fend off undesirable sexual feedback and advances by their male co-workers and supervisors and being groped on the “cube crawls” and different firm occasions. High-ranking executives and creators engaged in blatant sexual harassment with out repercussions.
In a very tragic instance, a feminine worker dedicated suicide throughout a enterprise journey with a male supervisor who had introduced butt plugs and lubricant with him on the journey.
The go well with additionally accuses Activision Blizzard of failing to behave on “numerous complaints” regarding harassment, discrimination and retaliation from male colleagues over these complaints, and says staff affected have been “further discouraged from complaining as human resource personnel were known to be close to alleged harassers”.
The DFEH has introduced the go well with searching for an injunction that can power Activision Blizzard to not solely start compmendacity with state office legal guidelines, but in addition tackle “unpaid wages, pay adjustments, back pay, and lost wages and benefits for female employees.”
In January of this yr, Activision Blizzard called attempts to make its workplace more diverse “unworkable”.
UPDATE: Activision has responded to the DFEH’s go well with, telling Kotaku in an announcement:
We worth variety and attempt to foster a office that gives inclusivity for everybody. There is not any place in our firm or business, or any business, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any form. We take each allegation significantly and examine all claims. In instances associated to misconduct, motion was taken to deal with the problem.
The DFEH consists of distorted, and in lots of instances false, descriptions of Blizzard’s previous. We have been extraordinarily cooperative with the DFEH all through their investigation, together with offering them with intensive knowledge and ample documentation, however they refused to tell us what points they perceived. They have been required by legislation to adequately examine and to have good religion discussions with us to higher perceive and to resolve any claims or considerations earlier than going to litigation, however they failed to take action. Instead, they rushed to file an inaccurate criticism, as we’ll display in courtroom. We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to pull into the criticism the tragic suicide of an worker whose passing has no bearing in any respect on this case and with no regard for her grieving household. While we discover this conduct to be disgraceful and unprofessional, it’s sadly an instance of how they’ve carried out themselves all through the course of their investigation. It is such a irresponsible conduct from unaccountable State bureaucrats which can be driving lots of the State’s greatest companies out of California.
The image the DFEH paints will not be the Blizzard office of immediately. Over the previous a number of years and persevering with because the preliminary investigation began, we’ve made important modifications to deal with firm tradition and mirror extra variety inside our management groups. We’ve up to date our Code of Conduct to emphasise a strict non-retaliation focus, amplified inner applications and channels for workers to report violations, together with the “ASK List” with a confidential integrity hotline, and launched an Employee Relations workforce devoted to investigating worker considerations. We have strengthened our dedication to variety, fairness and inclusion and mixed our Employee Networks at a worldwide degree, to supply extra help. Employees should additionally endure common anti-harassment coaching and have accomplished so for a few years.
We put great effort in creating truthful and rewarding compensation packages and insurance policies that mirror our tradition and enterprise, and we try to pay all staff pretty for equal or considerably related work. We take a wide range of proactive steps to make sure that pay is pushed by non-discriminatory components. For instance, we reward and compensate staff based mostly on their efficiency, and we conduct intensive anti-discrimination trainings together with for many who are a part of the compensation course of.
We are assured in our potential to display our practices as an equal alternative employer that fosters a supportive, numerous, and inclusive office for our individuals, and we’re dedicated to persevering with this effort within the years to come back. It is a disgrace that the DFEH didn’t need to interact with us on what they thought they have been seeing of their investigation.