Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Focus of Lawsuit Against Activision Blizzard
A California state agency has sued Activision Blizzard for sexual harassment and discrimination. Blizzard is a maker of popular video games, such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Guitar Hero. It is not known at this time whether employees have retained sexual harassment attorneys on their own.
Department of Fair Employment and Housing Files Lawsuit
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) claims that Activision Blizzard’s workplace is rife with harassment and discrimination. After an investigation lasting two years, the DFEH filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The suit alleged that executives and other employees at Activision created a “frat boy” culture in the workplace. Claims made by the DFEH included sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior, unequal pay between male and female employees, less opportunity for advancement for women, male employees drinking while on the job and even openly telling jokes on horrific topics such as sexual assault.
“Cube Crawls” Allegedly Occurred at Activision Blizzard
The DFEH alleges that discrimination and constant sexual harassment were endured by many female employees. The agency described situations where women had to continuously defend themselves against unwanted sexual advances, comments, and were even subjected to “cube crawls,” which essentially consisted of male employees going from one cubicle to the next attempting to grope female employees and engage in verbal harassment. It is also alleged that this type of behavior took place at company events.
One Case of Suicide Potentially Tied to Harassment
The lawsuit also claims that a female employee’s suicide was, at least in part, the result of a sexual relationship she was having with her male supervisor. Prior to her suicide, colleagues were alleged to have shared explicit photos of her, presumably acquired from the man with whom she was having sexual relations.
DFEH Alleges Activision’s HR Department Failed to Address Complaints
Bloomberg Law reported the lawsuit previously and stated that the company’s human resources department and its executives failed to address complaints and allegations of sexual harassment. It is unclear how many complaints were filed with Activision’s HR.
Accusations Denied by Company
Activision Blizzard prepared a statement in which a company spokesperson said the DFEH’s description does not match the company’s current climate. The statement went on to say that employees have undergone anti-harassment training for many years and that a confidential hotline to report harassment was made available.
The company also claimed that the State of California did not appropriately discuss the accusations with them before suing and expressed its dismay at the agency for referencing the female employee’s suicide. A spokesperson for them also said that the DFEH’s behavior in the matter was irresponsible and claimed that many California businesses are leaving for other states after being targeted by state agencies. The DFEH declined to respond to Activision’s statement.
Lawsuit Demands Unpaid Wage Compensation and Punitive Damages
According to the DFEH, one of the goals of the lawsuit is to obtain compensation for female employees who were paid less than their male co-workers for the same job. This is an issue for which some people seek the advice of employment lawyers. In addition, punitive damages were requested for those who were allegedly harassed. The gaming company is based in Santa Monica, California, and employs approximately 10,000 people. Its net worth is estimated at $70 billion.
Discrimination and Harassment Accusations Common in Gaming Industry
Accusations of discrimination and sexual harassment are common in the gaming industry. Some believe this is because such companies are primarily run by white males. Employment attorneys in Orange County should be consulted by those who believe they are being discriminated against or sexually harassed.