California Sues Activision Blizzard Over Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Allegations (UPDATE)

Activision Blizzard is being accused of promoting a "frat boy culture" in which female employees where subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination.

Sign on facade of office of videogame publisher Activision in the Silicon Beach area of Los Angeles, California.

Image via Getty/Smith Collection/Gado

Sign on facade of office of videogame publisher Activision in the Silicon Beach area of Los Angeles, California.

UPDATED 8/3, 10:35 a.m. ET: Blizzard president J. Allen Brack has stepped down, the New York Timesreports. He’ll be replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra. 

“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,” Brack said in a statement. “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.”

See original story below.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging the video game behemoth behind Call of Duty and World of Warcraft fostered a “frat boy culture” where its female employees have been subjected to unequal pay, sexual harassment, and retaliation, Bloomberg Law reports.  

The suit, which was filed on Tuesday, comes after a two-year investigation which found that female employees, which accounts for about 20 percent of its workforce, have been discriminated against in terms of compensation, promotion, and termination, while those in leadership roles have fallen short in addressing and resolving instances of harassment and retaliation. 

Activision Blizzard is accused of allowing its male employees to play video games during work hours while passing off responsibilities to their female colleagues. The agency claims male employees would also “drink copious amounts of alcohol as they crawl their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees,” as well as openly joke about rape, and discuss matters that were sexual in nature. 

Female employees who were part of the World of Warcraft team were allegedly hit on by their male counterparts and supervisors, and subjected to remarks about rape. Women in the company were allegedly criticized for leaving early to pick up their children, and overlooked for promotions because they could possibly get pregnant. 

A disturbing revelation in the suit points out that a female Activision employee endured sexual harassment, which included having nude photos passed around at a company holiday party. She died by suicide during a work trip with her male supervisor. 

“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,” Activision Blizzard said in a statement, per IGN. “They were 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.” 

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