The anti-discrimination lawsuit the state of California filed against Activision Blizzard in July has only grown more serious over time, with allegations of harassment and worker intimidation related to unfair labor practices. So much has happened since the suit was brought forward that it can be difficult identifying the various pieces and the implications it has for the company--and its workers and ex-workers. Below we try to give a brief timeline of the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, tracking the beginning through to its more recent developments, including an investigation by the SEC.

We'll continue to update this post with further developments as the situation progresses.

California Sues Activision Blizzard

Things kicked off on July 21. The California Department of Fair Housing and Employment ("DFEH") filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, alleging that the company "fostered a sexist culture" in which women were paid far less than men and people of color experienced instances of discrimination. The suit goes on to say that sexism has "plagued the male-dominated gaming industry for decades," and brings forth this legal action to "remedy, prevent, and deter" Activision Blizzard from violating California's civil rights and equal pay laws. Within the lawsuit are some salary breakdowns of the highest-paid executives at the company to illustrate the vast pay disparities, as well as examples of harassment that employees reportedly faced.

Not long after the suit was filed, Activision Blizzard responded to and dismissed the accusations, saying the "DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past."

Activision Blizzard Executives Respond--And Apologize

In the wake of the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard executives--from president J. Allen Brack (more on that later) to a former World of Warcraft designer and others--have addressed the allegations and apologized for the company's initial statement, their complicity in workplace behavior, or both.

Games Industry Employees Protest "Frat Boy" Workplace Culture

Thousands of Activision Blizzard employees signed an open letter condemning how the company responded to the lawsuit. And to take that criticism further, workers staged a massive walkout on July 28 to protest what they called an "abhorrent and insulting" response from the publisher. In solidarity with Activision Blizzard employees, Ubisoft workers penned a letter to their publisher decrying the "frat boy" culture at Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft's negligence to make substantial changes amid its own allegations. In response to criticism over one of Activision Blizzard's initial statement, CEO Bobby Kotick issued an internal letter calling "tone deaf."

Some Press And Streamers Stop Covering Activision Blizzard Games

Much like employees tired of the games industry's rampant discriminatory and harassing behavior, a few media outlets and livestreamers have begun protesting Activision Blizzard in the wake of the lawsuit by no longer covering its games. This includes news sites The Gamer, GameXplain, and Prima Games, as well as World of Warcraft content creators (though their reasons are different).

Activision Blizzard Executives Bow Out Of Company

The lawsuit has rattled Activision Blizzard, with prominent leaders now leaving their positions at the company. Blizzard president J. Allen Brack has stepped down, putting Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra in charge as co-leaders. At the same time, Blizzard's SVP of Global HR, Jesse Meschuk, has also left. According to a company earnings call, Activision Blizzard said it will "terminate any manager or leader" that impedes the business's integrity. Though both Brack and Meschuk have left the company, it's unclear whether Activision Blizzard terminated either executive.

And Activision Blizzard Gets Sued Again

In the face of everything surrounding the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft company, Activision Blizzard is facing a separate class-action lawsuit. This one, filed by a shareholders, alleges that the company failed to notify them about the DFEH's two-year investigation. The company's stock has plunged since the lawsuit's filing and the lawsuit seeks damages.

Alleged Worker Intimidation

The controversies became great enough for federal government regulators to get involved, including the SEC with its own investigation. According to the Wall Street Journal, CEO Bobby Kotick--who has been at the company for about three decades--and several other executives were subpoenaed for files from six former employees and a variety of other documents. Prior to this, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing also accused the company of shredding evidence. Activision Blizzard denied this accusation.

Activision Blizzard Says It's Working With Regulators

Following the announcement of the investigation, Activision Blizzard responded by saying it will work with the regulatory agencies to address concerns. Bobby Kotick said the company is "deeply committed to making Activision Blizzard one of the best, most inclusive players to work anywhere." Agencies the company is said to be working with include the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which accused Activision Blizzard of shredding documents in the past. Several employees have apparently also been fired. Blizzard's chief legal officer also left after three years, though there was no reason given for the exit.

Activision Blizzard Agrees to $18 Million Gender Discrimination Settlement

In late September, Activision Blizzard announced that it had settled in a lawsuit by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged gender discrimination and harassment. Per the terms of the settlement, the company is creating an $18 million fund to compensate claimants and any unused funds will go toward women-centric video game industry charities in an effort to improve diversity and inclusion. The settlement filing by Activision Blizzard denies any wrongdoing by the company, however, and it must be approved by the court before it is made final.

Activision Blizzard Raises Potential Ethics Violations Concerns

In a move apparently meant to put a temporary halt on California's lawsuit and investigation, Activision Blizzard objected to a "non-complex designation" for the case, saying in a court filing that there are allegations of the Department of Fair Employment & Housing's attorneys violating ethics rules, including advising Activision Blizzard employees to not consult with their own lawyers. It also alleges some of the DFEH's attorneys previously worked for the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an agency currently having disagreements with California's agency. This information was obtained by GameSpot via court filings shown to us by Activision. However, the request was later denied, with the case apparently moving forward as planned.

Activision Blizzard Says It's Making Big Changes

On October 19, Activision Blizzard's executive VP for corporate affairs Fran Townsend emailed employees to detail steps the company has taken to improve its workplace culture and address allegations. These have included disciplinary action for "more than 20" people at the company as well as more than 20 others exiting it completely. There have also been multiple new positions added to the company's Ethics and Compliance team with plans for far more in the future, as well as a reorganization of this team and a "tripling of investment into training resources." This team is separate from both the business and HR teams.

Bobby Kotick Asks For Pay Cut

In late October, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who has led the company for several decades, asked the company's board to reduce his salary to the lowest possible for a California employee and remove any of his bonuses as well. The number worked out to $62,500, and Activision said it is also waving mandatory arbitration in another move that should give affected or concerned workers more leverage when reporting on abuse.

Kotick Accused Of Misconduct, Staying Silent

Shortly after his pay cut request was announced, Kotick himself was accused of hiding what he knew about harassment and assault allegations dating back several years at Activision Blizzard. It was also reported via the Wall Street Journal that he had threatened to kill an assistant. Following his own statement denying the allegations, a group of employees announced a planned walkout.