This article deals with heavy topics such as racism, sexual harassment, rape, and suicide so please be advised.
On July 20, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard after a two-year investigation into discriminatory behaviour towards female employees at the company.
Within it, lists unequal treatment in regards to compensation, assignments, promotions, and terminations, and alleges that leadership has failed to take the necessary steps to prevent discrimination in the workplace.
The Claims Against Activision Blizzard
Women are said to make up 20% of the workplace at Activision Blizzard and are allegedly subjected to “frat-boy culture” from male employees. Male employees spend their time video games and delegate their work to the female staff, get drunk during office hours and “cube crawl”, moving from cubicle to cubicle, and behaving inappropriately towards women.
The lawsuit also claims that male employees will often joke about rape openly in front of female employees and the World of Warcraft team claimed male employees and supervisors would consistently hit on them and act degradingly.
Women of colour were particularly vulnerable targets. The lawsuit states that an African American woman noted it took her two years to get a permanent position at the company while male employees became permanent in a shorter space of time. She also claimed that she was being micromanaged by her supervisor when her other co-workers would be left alone, aware they were playing games instead of working. Other African American women also claimed this and would not be given time off work, only “when no one else had to do any write-up”.
The lawsuit also cites the example of a female employee who took her own life during a company trip with a male supervisor, after an intense case of sexual harassment in the workplace which included nude photos of her being spread around at a company party. Furthermore, female employees have stated they denied promotions in fear of the possibility of becoming pregnant, due to the fact women are criticised at Activision Blizzard for requiring to leave work early to pick up their children from daycare and have even been kicked out of designated lactation rooms so it could be used for meetings.
The DFEH lawsuit demands compensatory and punitive damages, unpaid wages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, equitable relief, pre-judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed an explosive lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for discrimination. Some of the details in the complaint are horrifying https://t.co/rKF3HlaEaY pic.twitter.com/dRuP8HPyqe
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) July 22, 2021
Since the news went public, a spokesperson at Activision Blizzard contacted Jason Schreier (Bloomberg), claiming the reports are distorted and in many cases false, yet Schreier tweeted he has heard several stories about sexism shown at Activision Blizzard over the years, showing many are not believing Activision Blizzard’s response to the lawsuit.
After last year’s misconduct reports from Ubisoft, it’s clear to see the gaming industry is far from gender equality and this story will have a massive impact on the community and hopefully, we can start making immediate changes for the better.
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