Activision Blizzard faces sexual harassment lawsuit from California state agency

Activision Blizzard faces sexual harassment lawsuit from California state agency

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.

Blizzard Entertainment

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.

 

James Franco Ends Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with a $2,235,000 Settlement

James Franco Ends Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with a $2,235,000 Settlement

James Franco Ends Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with a $2,235,000 Settlement

A 2019 sexual-harassment lawsuit may be settled in the near future, according to court filings that were recently made public. Actor James Franco has reportedly signed off on a $2,235,000 settlement to end a lawsuit in which he was accused of coercing acting students into performing sexually explicit scenes on film. The settlement must be approved by a Los Angeles County judge.

James Franco

Franco Was Sued for Sexual Misconduct by Two Actors in 2019

Two actors sued James Franco and his acting and film school in October 2019. The two female students accused him of pressuring them and other students into performing exploitative and gratuitous sex scenes that went well beyond recognized standards on Hollywood film sets. The class-action suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The two plaintiffs also alleged that Franco, along with his partners, took part in inappropriate sexual behavior toward female students and exploited them by using his power as a teacher. Job opportunities were allegedly dangled in front of the students, and the lawsuit accused both Franco and his business partner, Vince Jolivette, of urging students to do sexually explicit scenes with the understanding that they would be given the best roles in exchange for their participation. They further alleged that special treatment was given to students who willingly disrobed in the presence of Franco and his friends.

Students Stated They Were Victims of Fraud

The students were paying $300 a month to attend the acting school, which closed in 2017. Both women claimed they were essentially victims of fraud due to the alleged harassment. The lawsuit accuses Franco of attempting to create his own circle of young women that he could exploit sexually in the name of education.

Franco’s Attorneys Denied Claims

Franco’s sexual-harassment attorneys denied the claims listed in the lawsuit as legally baseless, false, and inflammatory. The attorneys stated that the plaintiffs were attention hungry and that their objective was to get maximum publicity.

Details were disclosed in the filing because the suit is a class action and therefore open to public review. The total amount paid, if approved by a Los Angeles judge, would be $2,235,000. Of the total amount, the plaintiffs would receive $894,000, with the remainder placed in a common fund for the other class-action lawsuit members. Tither-Kaplan would receive $670,500, and $223,500 would go to Gaal, less sexual-harassment attorneys’ fees from each woman.

The settlement would also result in Tither-Kaplan and Gaal dropping their claims without prejudice. Another part of the settlement would give other members of the class-action suit approximately two months to back out and pursue their cases further on their own. Any unclaimed funds from the lawsuit would go to the National Women’s Law Center.

James Franco

Franco Makes Joint Statement with Plaintiffs

Sexual-harassment attorneys in Orange County have learned that part of the agreement includes a joint statement by Franco and the plaintiffs, in which Franco could keep denying the allegations. However, Franco and his attorneys acknowledged that the women brought up important issues, and that the mistreatment of women in Hollywood is something that should be addressed. All parties agreed that it is essential to make sure no one in the entertainment industry faces any type of discrimination or harassment.

As Sexual Harassment Allegations Surface at LSU, Les Miles and Kansas Part Company

As Sexual Harassment Allegations Surface at LSU, Les Miles and Kansas Part Company

Employment attorneys in Orange County have learned that Les Miles is no longer the Head Football Coach at the University of Kansas as he was terminated earlier this week. This move came after sexual harassment allegations were brought forth from his tenure as the Head Football Coach at LSU. Mr. Miles was initially put on administrative leave by Kansas, but the separation is now complete and permanent. The specific terms of his departure will be made public in the days to come. Jeff Long, University of Kansas Athletic Director, said that an outside firm was hired to assist the school in its immediate search for a new head coach. Mr. Long also said that he was very disappointed for the fans, the University, and everyone associated with the school’s football program. Long also mentioned their ultimate goal is continuing to win football games.

Les Miles

Photo Credit Sports Pulse – Jeff Wolken

Reports of Sexual Misconduct Allegedly Mishandled

Following a series of investigative reports from USA Today, a legal firm was hired by LSU to investigate the way the school and its athletic department allegedly mishandled sexual harassment accusations, as well as accusations of domestic abuse. That investigation uncovered multiple claims of harassment by female LSU students against Mr. Miles, which ended with a recommendation from then-LSU athletic director, Joe Alleva, to terminate Mr. Miles with cause. In spite of this recommendation, however, Mr. Miles retained his employment at LSU until he was let go following a 2-2 start in 2016. Mr. Long then hired Mr. Miles as the Head Football Coach at Kansas a few years later, but his former issues have once again caught up to him.

Multiple Sexual Harassment Accusations from Female LSU Students

One of the many incidents investigated was one that took place in 2013, when a female student alleged that Mr. Miles told her she was good looking and kissed her twice without her permission. The accusation was denied by Mr. Miles, but the report went on to say it appeared that he executed poor judgment by creating a situation in which a student employee was made to feel uncomfortable.

The report, created by the law firm Husch Blackwell, was released last week and stated that an employee of the athletic department referred to one student as “completely traumatized” after alleged contact with Mr. Miles. Following the conclusion of the 2013 investigation, LSU banned Mr. Miles from communicating with female students or being alone with them in any setting.

Photo Credit – USA Today- Jeff Biggerstaff

Mr. Miles Speaks of a Bright Future for Kansas Football

Mr. Miles described his termination as “difficult” for he and his family, and he said that he loved the school and the students in the football program. He expressed confidence that the football program is in a better place now than it was when he initially took the position. He encouraged student athletes at the school to earn their degrees and spoke of a bright future for them and for Kansas football.

Peter Ginsberg, Mr. Miles’s sexual harassment attorney, stated that he was “unfairly maligned.” With regard to the team, however, Kansas is in a difficult situation with spring football on the horizon, as the Jayhawks are now missing a Head Coach for the rest of March. Kansas said that a nationwide search for a new coach was launched on Monday, and, in the interim, Mike DeBord will serve as the acting head coach for the team.

 

NY Mets GM Fired For Sexually Harassing Texts

NY Mets GM Fired For Sexually Harassing Texts

After Confessing to Harassing Texts, Jared Porter is Fired as Mets GM

Employment attorneys in Orange County have learned that on Monday night, Jared Porter, the newly hired General Manager of the New York Mets, confessed to sending explicit, harassing texts to a female reporter in 2016. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes, who first broke the story, the incidents took place when Porter was the Director of Professional Scouting for the Chicago Cubs in 2016. Only hours after Porter admitted to sending the texts, Steve Cohen, the Mets’ new owner, fired him. The woman, who may have already sought the advice of sexual harassment attorneys, has communicated with ESPN on the basis of anonymity.

Jared Porter NY Mets

Photo by World News

Allegations of Multiple Inappropriate Text Messages and Pictures

The woman claims Porter sent in excess of 60 texts that she did not answer. She alleges these texts commenced with a lewd picture of a man’s erection. Forty-one-year-old Porter claimed that the explicit picture was not a selfie, but rather a stock image that was more or less meant as a joke. However, he had initially denied sending the female reporter any photos at all when he was first questioned by ESPN.

Porter Fired Tuesday Morning

The decision of the Mets to fire Porter was announced in a tweet early Tuesday morning. The Cubs and the Mets denied having any knowledge of the incident until Monday evening. A statement issued Tuesday morning by Mets’ president Sandy Alderson said that Porter’s conduct regarding the texts didn’t meet the Mets’ standards for personal conduct and professionalism.

Jared Porter Mets Response

First Meeting Leads to a Flurry of Sexual Texts

Porter met the woman in June 2016 in an elevator at Yankee Stadium, after she had moved to the U.S. to cover Major League Baseball as a foreign correspondent. The initial encounter is said to have been brief, although contact information was exchanged.  Later that afternoon, Porter allegedly began texting the woman and asked her three different times to have a drink with him that night. She reported to ESPN that she agreed because she believed Porter was volunteering himself as a source of information about baseball and did not think the meeting would be personal. Nevertheless, she eventually canceled drinks that night and asked if they could instead meet the following day.

Jared Porter Harassment Selfie ESPN

Photo by ESPN

Female Reporter Cuts off Communication After Receiving Sexual Texts

Porter continued to text her, asking if she was involved with anyone and sending her an unsolicited selfie which contained the text “Like?” The woman did not respond to the text. At one point, Porter asked the woman to send him a picture of herself in return. She said that because this is a common practice in her country, she felt obliged to send the selfie. Porter send her three additional pictures; one appeared to be a photo of his crotch with an obvious bulge indicating an erection. The woman claimed she then cut off communication with Porter after receiving these final texts.

Jared Porter InsideExpress

Photo by InsideExpress

Over the next several weeks, Porter reportedly sent multiple photos and approximately 62 unanswered texts to the woman. In one text, sent when they were both at Wrigley Field, he remarked about how beautiful she was. She claimed that the text made her panic and motivated her to hide from Porter.

Porter then texted her requesting that she meet him at a Los Angeles hotel. He allegedly sent her a series of texts the following day as well, including 17 photos, one of which was a nude, erect penis. According to ESPN, the woman eventually showed some of the messages and sexual photos to a player from her home country, who urged her to tell Porter to stop and assisted her with a written response. It is unclear if the woman is currently represented by sexual-harassment lawyers.

Mets President Response

Can sexual harassment exist of the perpetrator and the victim are not coworkers?

Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), which is often broader than federal law, harassers can consist of employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, apprenticeship training programs, any training programs leading to employment, or any person.  Victims of harassment can include employees, applicants, unpaid interns or volunteers, or persons providing services pursuant to a contract.  Organizations, such as the Mets, often have a zero-tolerance policy with respect to sexual harassment, in particular for leaders at the highest levels of the company.

If you believe you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, please call one of our employment attorneys at 949-629-2519, or fill out the form on the contact page.

Source Article: Yahoo! News

Lack of “Cultural Fit” Cited as Reason for Amy Palcic’s Termination from Texans

Lack of “Cultural Fit” Cited as Reason for Amy Palcic’s Termination from Texans

Employment attorneys in Orange County are following the story of the termination of Amy Palcic, the former Vice President of Communications for the NFL’s Houston Texans. Palcic referred to her termination as “humiliating,” and this is only the latest in a series of baffling moves made by The Texans, who are becoming known for off and on abrupt changes, as exemplified by the firing of Palcic.

Franchise Altering Moves Made Since October

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the Texans terminated Palcic for a lack of “cultural fit.” It may not come as a surprise to some people, however, as the Texans have made headlines for a series of franchise altering moves since October. The most notable of these was the alarming lack of return on a trade for DeAndre Hopkins, an All-Pro receiver. This move, among other head scratching decisions lead to the termination of longtime general manager and coach Bill O’Brien just four games into the current season.  While the termination itself was somewhat expected, the Texans again surprised the sports world with its timing.

Texans-Amy-Palcic

Photo Credit – New York Post

Palcic Seeks Legal Advice

Palcic has hired Joseph Ahmad, a lawyer in Houston who has made only one statement so far, in which he confirmed that Palcic retained his services. Many employment attorneys specialize in wrongful termination, gender discrimination, and similar work-related issues that involve unethical or illegal action by a person’s employer.

Ahmad is a lawyer to many executives and has tried numerous cases involving employment issues and breach-of-employment contracts. Palcic may indeed have a contract that was breached. She may also have engaged in protected activity, such as voicing concerns about specific comments made in the workplace by management or raising objections about certain practices which could lead to claims of retaliation.

Regardless of the legal theory, the case could ultimately hinge on whether or not he could poke holes in the “cultural fit” explanation given by the Texans. In other words, if the stated reason for Palcic’s termination can be proven incorrect or baseless, it would suggest that it was merely a cover for a different reason that is in violation of the law.

In the days before her firing, Palcic re-tweeted criticism of members of Donald Trump’s staff and tweeted her support of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, but there is no direct evidence that Palcic was fired because of these actions.

As legal matters go, the termination of the former VP of communications may not be a case for discrimination attorneys and may not be actionable, depending on a broad range of circumstances. It could possibly be disregarded as an inconsequential, organizational change, but all this remains to be seen. Either way, few would argue that Palcic was loved and respected by many of her colleagues, and that the Texans may once again be cast in a terrible light for this decision.

Amy Palcic  Texans

Photo by ClutchPoints

Achievements and Recognition 

In 2017, Palcic won the Pete Rozelle Award, bestowed by the Pro Football Writers of America. Her staff won the 2017 Rozelle Award as well, which is given to the best public relations team in the NFL. In 2019, Palcic was named as one of Houston Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business” and included on the WISE “Women of Inspiration” list. WISE is an acronym for the organization “Women in Sports and Events.”  Many predict Palcic will land on her feet, regardless of how her story with the Texans ultimately ends.