Activision-Blizzard Sued By California Over Poor Office Culture

Some big news this evening for Activision-Blizzard as it has come out the company is being sued by the state of California. Bloomberg broke the news tonight after the state (specifically the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing) officially filed a lawsuit citing "frat boy" culture. The lawsuit states that women in their workplace (which apparently only makes up 20% of the current staff there) have been subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation. Here's a snippet from the Bloomberg report.

Activision Blizzard & Google Announces Multi-Year "Strategic Relationship"
Credit: Activision Blizzard

According to the complaint, filed Tuesday in the Los Angeles Superior Court, female employees make up around 20% of the Activision workforce, and are subjected to a "pervasive frat boy workplace culture," including "cube crawls," in which male employees "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."

The agency alleges male employees play video games during the workday while delegating responsibilities to female employees, engage in sexual banter, and joke openly about rape, among other things. Female employees allege being held back from promotions because of the possibility they might become pregnant, being criticized for leaving to pick their children up from daycare, and being kicked out of lactation rooms so male colleagues could use the room for meetings, the complaint says. 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 behavior, the agency alleges.

Activision-Blizzard Sued By California Over Poor Office Culture
Photo Credit: ShutterStock/Casimiro PT

The lawsuit, which you can read the filing in full here, has about 20+ pages of examples that they recorded over a two-year period. The most damaging of the accusations is the story of a female Activision employee who took her own life while in the company of a male supervisor on a company trip. The state is seeking an injunction to force compliance with workplace protections, along with several other measures including unpaid wages, pay adjustments, back pay, lost wages and benefits, and more for several female employees.

Activision-Blizzard didn't respond to Bloomberg, but they did send a statement to IGN saying they "rushed to file an inaccurate complaint" and made it pretty clear they're going to fight the lawsuit. Considering this is being filed in California, which is notorious for having one of the biggest backlogs of lawsuits in the United States, we're not expecting to hear anything from Activision-Blizzard until proceedings get underway. Which at the rate they're seeing cases still under certain COVID-19 restrictions, probably won't be until late-Fall 2021 at the earliest.

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About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.
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