Activision Blizzard, a company behind massively popular gaming titles like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, is being sued by California for allegedly allowing a “frat boy” workplace culture, where sexual harassment and discrimination flourished.
It would seem that Ubisoft and Vertagear aren’t the only prominent names within the gaming industry that suffer from sexual misconduct and toxic workplace culture. The first was taken to court by the French Solidaires Informatique union over sexual harassment charges, while the latter suffered the wrath of Cancel Culture on Twitter over sexist tweets – for which the company issued an apology. But these aren’t isolated cases; according to Deadline, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for allowing a “frat boy” workplace culture, which thrived on sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior towards its female employees.
The accusations listed in the lawsuit claimed executives sexually harassed female employees while their male colleagues openly joked about rape and drank alcohol while engaging in inappropriate behavior toward women. As per the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s report, Activision Blizzard’s workplace is a hotbed for harassment and discrimination against women, in which female employees, already paid less than their male colleagues, are continuously subjected to sexual harassment and unwanted advances by their male co-workers.
Several shocking instances of sexual harassment, and its result, were also mentioned in the lawsuit. For example, women in the office are often subjected to so-called “cube-crawls,” in which their male colleagues drink copious amounts of alcohol and organize “crawls” through cubicles in the office. These “crawls” would often end in sexual harassment of Activision Blizzard’s female employees with no repercussions for the perpetrators. In another instance, and a far more extreme case, a female employee died by suicide after male colleagues supposedly shared her private and rather explicit photos.
Accusations of workplace misconduct and sexual harassment are only the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath the surface is equally appalling. The sexual harassment charges sit on top of allegations of discrimination against women and refusals to promote capable employees based on their gender – one of the managers even commented that Activision Blizzard couldn’t risk promoting a female employee, as “she might get pregnant and like being a mom.” So we’re discussing more than gender discrimination; we’re now discussing the trampling of fundamental human rights – the right to private and family life.
The lawsuit concluded by claiming that Activision Blizzard’s executives and its human resources department failed to address the misconduct when they were informed of it. Could it be that they’re also a part of the problem? Yes, because that’s exactly what happened. According to the lawsuit, the employees were allegedly discouraged from complaining since HR personnel was known to be close to reported perpetrators. So, not only have the executives and HR department neglected the issue, they openly ignored it, protecting the harassers.
Activision Blizzard responded by stating that the picture painted by DFEH isn’t the picture of Blizzard’s workplace of today and that the cases related to the misconduct were previously addressed. The company also claims that the state of California didn’t discuss the accusations before filing a suit.