The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed a lawsuit against Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Diablo developer Activision Blizzard. The lawsuit highlights allegations of sexual harassment, unequal pay, and a general “frat boy” culture.
Reported on by Bloomberg’s Legal Reporter Maeve Allsup on July 21, 2021, the investigation by the California agency took two-years and “seeks an injunction forcing compliance with workplace protections”. Allsup notes that this would also include “unpaid wages, pay adjustments, back pay, and lost wages and benefits for female employees.”
Fellow Bloomberg reporter, Jason Schreier, shared screenshots of the lawsuit on Twitter which paint the picture of the “frat boy” workplace.
In the office, women are subjected to “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 behaviour toward female employees.
The lawsuit also states that male workers come into work hungover, delegate their responsibilities to female workers while they play video games, talk about female bodies, and joke about rape.
Schreier also shared that an Activision Blizzard spokesman sent him a “lengthy statement calling the allegations ‘distorted, and in many cases false’.” The statement calls into question the investigative quality of the DFEH and claims that its “disgraceful and unprofessional” behaviour is “driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.”
Allsup also highlights a few points made in the lawsuit, including that female employees are often overlooked for promotions because of the “possibility they might become pregnant”, are criticized for picking up their children from daycare, and are kicked out of lactating rooms so the rooms can be used for meetings.
The lawsuit also notes that after the female employees engaged in protective activities, Activision Blizzard took “adverse employment actions”. These actions include denial of professional opportunities and negative performance reviews which the lawsuit cites are likely used for layoffs.
The 29-page case file is available for reading online. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the California v. Activision Blizzard lawsuit as it unfolds.