Activision Blizzard CEO denies culture of harassment and blames unions for company problems

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In 2021, the state of California sued Activision Blizzard alleging that the video crippled steadfast fostered a pervasive civilization of harassment going backmost years. Details successful the suit spoke of “cube crawls” wherever antheral employees would get drunk and locomotion astir the workplace subjecting pistillate employees to inappropriate behavior. It alleged that antheral employees would pawn disconnected responsibilities to their pistillate co-workers, however women of colour were passed up for opportunities fixed to little tenured workers, and however a elder World of Warcraft developer was truthful infamous for his harassment of women that his bureau was nicknamed the “Cosby suite.”

But quality of the suit was conscionable the opening salvo successful what would go a artillery of reporting, documenting the kinds of harassment that went connected astatine Activision Blizzard. Current and erstwhile employees shared their stories, including however a pistillate was demoted for allegedly reporting her harasser, however a nursing parent had her bosom beverage stolen from institution refrigerators, and however 1 employee’s intersexual harassment led to their decease by suicide.

Amidst that reporting, The Wall Street Journal released its ain study accusing Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick of knowing about, ignoring, and, successful immoderate cases, perpetrating harassment of his employees.

Kotick has apologized for immoderate allegations, including 1 wherever helium near a voicemail threatening to person his adjunct killed, but denied others.

And successful a caller interview with Variety, Kotick further denied that Activision Blizzard had immoderate pervasive issues with abuse. Instead, helium blamed labour organizers for the company’s problems.

“We’ve had each imaginable signifier of probe done. And we did not person a systemic contented with harassment — ever,” helium said successful the interview. “But what we did person was a precise assertive labour movement working hard to effort and destabilize the company.”

Kotick described the reporting done connected worker harassment and maltreatment astatine Activision Blizzard arsenic “mischaracterizations” portion asserting that the institution has a comparatively debased percent of harassment complaints for its 17,000 employees. A transparency report, released Wednesday, outlined the company’s lasting successful narration to respective stated goals similar expanding the fig of women it employs and the fig of harassment claims it received and acted upon. According to the report, the institution investigated 116 complaints and was capable to substantiate 31 of them, resulting successful immoderate benignant of action. However the study appears to omit the full fig of claims it received.

We besides cognize that Activision Blizzard agreed to wage the Security and Exchange Commission $35 cardinal aft it determined that the institution did not person due reporting structures successful place. Activision Blizzard besides settled its suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $18 million — a colony the authorities of California tried and failed to block, citing concerns that it would hinder its ain case, and lawyer Lisa Bloom, known for litigating high-profile harassment cases and counsel for a Blizzard employee, called “woefully inadequate.”

While Kotick was speedy to blasted unions for galore of the company’s unit issues, helium besides claimed to enactment unions, stating that he’s not anti-union due to the fact that he’s a subordinate of a national himself — joining SAG-AFTRA for his quality successful Moneyball — and due to the fact that of his mother.

“I person a parent who was a teacher. I person nary aversion to a union,” helium said. “What I bash person an aversion to is simply a national that doesn’t play by the rules.”

Speaking of “playing by the rules,” Activision Blizzard has had aggregate unfair labour signifier complaints filed against it. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has recovered merit successful respective of these complaints, including amerciable surveillance, threatening employees’ protected rights, and illegally withholding compensation due to the fact that of national activity.

Morale astatine Activision Blizzard has taken a beating these past 2 years, and employees person responded to each the quality with walkouts, demands for Kotick’s resignation, organizing for amended treatment, and winning historic victories for the video crippled labour question successful North America. Right now, Activision Blizzard is successful the midst of a merchantability to Microsoft — a merchantability that was thought mightiness save the institution from its sordid present and Kotick himself via aureate parachute. Now that the woody has been credibly threatened by regulators, it seems similar Kotick is deploying a caller strategy to repair his and his company’s estimation — by blaming everyone but himself.

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