The video game company behind World of Warcraft and Candy Crush is being sued for allegations of “brotherhood boy culture” and treatment of its employees.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued Activision Blizzard Inc in California Superior Court after a two-year investigation into the company found discrimination against women in general and pregnant employees, sexual harassment, retaliation and unequal pay.
The company said it had cooperated with the agency in its investigation and that the DFEH had refused to inform them of certain allegations it had uncovered. In past misconduct cases, Activision Blizzard Inc has stated that “steps have been taken” to resolve the issues.
The company called the allegations in the complaint “distorted and, in many cases, false,” and said it values diversity in the workplace and inclusion for all.
The DFEH released the findings of its investigation in June and said it tried to resolve the issue without litigation, but three mediation sessions with company management earlier this month failed to do so.
Complaint Says Activision Blizzard Inc, one of America’s largest video game developers and distributors, “fostered a sexist culture” and that female employees receive lower starting wages and earn less than men doing similar work .
He responded to the allegations by saying the “picture” painted by the agency was not “today’s Blizzard workplace.” He cited new anti-harassment training, a confidential hotline for employees to report violations and performance-based pay as his efforts to improve.
The agency said it was bringing a lawsuit on its own behalf and on behalf of all aggrieved employees. He seeks punitive and compensatory damages, penalties under the Equal Remuneration Act, an injunction and any back wages that may be determined at a later date.
The management of the company is predominantly male and white, and only 20% of its 9,500 employees are women.
The DFEH also said the organization fosters a “ubiquitous sibling workplace culture that continues to thrive.” The plaintiffs said in the office that women are “subjected to ‘cube crawls’,” which involves men drinking excessively as they weave their way through various cubicles and behave inappropriately towards them. the women.
The investigation also found that male employees showed up to have hangovers at work, played video games while delegating their responsibilities to female employees, and joked about rape and sex. A male supervisor allegedly told a male subordinate to “buy” a prostitute to cure his bad mood.
In another scenario described in the complaint, the company refused to deal with a former senior creative director of the company, Alex Afrasiabi, who the department said was “authorized to engage in egregious sexual harassment with little or no repercussions “. This included hitting on the female employees, telling them he wanted to marry them and putting their arms around them, to the point that other male employees had to “take him off the female employees.”
The president of Blizzard Entertainment chatted with him about his drinking and his being “too friendly” to employees at corporate events. But then Afrasiabi continued the advances and the trial and error. He left the company in June 2020 and his social media profiles were deleted. A public number in Afrasiabi did not give a voice message or a pick-up.
“I’ll go out and say it. I was one of those women. My incident happened in 2013 at BlizzCon. I didn’t say anything officially until I decided to leave the company last year, due to name recognition and fear of retaliation ”, wrote Stephanie Krutsick, former company producer, on Twitter.