Activision Blizzard Sued Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture, Harassment (1)
Video game giant Activision Blizzard Inc., maker of games including World of Warcraft and Diablo, fosters a “frat boy” culture in which female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation, according to a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
A two-year investigation by the state agency found that the company discriminated against female employees in terms and conditions of employment, including compensation, assignment, promotion, and termination. Company leadership consistently failed to take steps to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, the agency said.
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.
The suit also points to a female Activision employee who took her own life while on a company trip with her male supervisor. The employee had been subjected to intense sexual harassment prior to her death, including having nude photos passed around at a company holiday party, the complaint says.
The agency seeks an injunction forcing compliance with workplace protections, as well as unpaid wages, pay adjustments, back pay, and lost wages and benefits for female employees.
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/rKF3HlaEaYpic.twitter.com/dRuP8HPyqe— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) July 22, 2021
An Activision Blizzard spokesman sent me a lengthy statement calling the allegations "distorted, and in many cases false" and referring to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing as "unaccountable State bureaucrats." pic.twitter.com/L9RINw0uZ9— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) July 22, 2021
Truth is, I've heard several stories about sexism and sexual misconduct at Blizzard over the past few years. Needless to say, we'll be reporting more on this. If you work or worked at Blizzard and would like to share your story confidentially, I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) July 22, 2021
The news also made Asmongold, a very popular WoW player, feel the following:
Shameful to hear about what's been reportedly going on at Blizzard— Zack (@Asmongold) July 22, 2021
As a 20+ year fan it really hurts to see how things have devolved in such an awful way
Just makes me sad.
I feel the same as Asmon. What do you think, SW?
Edit: added the latter part of the article and Schreier's Tweets.