California sues Activision Blizzard over a culture of ‘constant sexual harassment’

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California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) says that renowned crippled publishing workplace Blizzard Entertainment, and its proprietor Activision Blizzard, person created a civilization of “constant intersexual harassment” and gender-based discrimination, successful a caller suit filed Tuesday that claims apical executives were alert and/or progressive — and successful the hours since the suit was revealed, galore women person already stepped guardant to corroborate the allegations.

The details are truthful disturbing that we’re going to commencement with a trigger warning close now. The thought that antheral employees held “cube crawls” is 1 of the tamer allegations successful the lawsuit:

Female employees astir universally confirmed that moving for Defendants was akin to moving successful a frat house, which invariably progressive antheral employees drinking and subjecting pistillate employees to intersexual harassment with nary repercussion. “Cube crawls” successful Defendants’ offices were communal and antheral employees proudly came into enactment hungover. Similarly, antheral employees would play video games during work, prosecute successful banter astir their intersexual encounters, speech openly astir pistillate bodies, and marque galore jokes astir rape.

As a merchandise of this “frat boy” culture, women were subjected to galore intersexual comments and advances, groping and unwanted carnal touching, and different forms of harassment. A pistillate worker noted that random antheral employees would attack her connected Defendants’ enactment tract and remark connected her breasts. Female employees moving for the World of Warcraft squad noted that antheral employees and supervisors would deed connected them, marque derogatory comments astir rape, and different prosecute successful demeaning behavior. This behaviour was known to supervisors and so encouraged by them, including a antheral supervisor openly encouraging a antheral subordinate to “buy” a prostitute to cure his atrocious mood.

Blizzard president J. Allen Brack is specifically named arsenic being alert of and enabling this benignant of behavior, and an unnamed erstwhile Blizzard CTO “was observed by employees groping inebriated pistillate employees astatine institution events.” World of Warcraft senior originative manager Alex Afrasiabi is besides specifically named:

Alex Afrasiabi, the erstwhile Senior Creative Director of World of Warcraft astatine Blizzard Entertainment, was permitted to prosecute successful blatant intersexual harassment with small to nary repercussions. During a institution lawsuit (an yearly normal called Blizz Con) Afrasiabi would deed connected pistillate employees, telling him helium wanted to wed them, attempting to buss them, and putting, his arms astir them. This was successful plain presumption of different antheral employees, including supervisors, who had to intervene and propulsion him disconnected pistillate employees. Afrasiabi was truthful known to prosecute successful harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the “Crosby Suite” aft alleged rapist Bill Crosby.

We’re assuming the DFEH meant Bill Cosby, but it’s not clear. A fewer adjacent uglier things are described successful the afloat ailment below, similar however 1 worker committed termination aft utmost forms of intersexual harassment.

All of the alleged intersexual harassment is connected apical of allegations of discrimination, specified arsenic refusals to beforehand women — “the manager commented that they could not hazard promoting her arsenic she mightiness get large and similar being a mom,” 1 allegation reads — arsenic good arsenic wage favoritism and outright retaliation. Employees were allegedly “discouraged from complaining arsenic quality assets unit were known to beryllium adjacent to alleged harassers.”

Here is the afloat connection Activision Blizzard provided to The Verge and different publications, which calls the suit “irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving galore of the State’s champion businesses retired of California”:

We worth diverseness and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is nary spot successful our institution oregon industry, oregon immoderate industry, for intersexual misconduct oregon harassment of immoderate kind. We instrumentality each allegation earnestly and analyse each claims. In cases related to misconduct, enactment was taken to code the issue.

The DFEH includes distorted, and successful galore cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We person been highly cooperative with the DFEH passim their investigation, including providing them with extended information and ample documentation, but they refused to pass america what issues they perceived. They were required by instrumentality to adequately analyse and to person bully religion discussions with america to amended recognize and to resoluteness immoderate claims oregon concerns earlier going to litigation, but they failed to bash so. Instead, they rushed to record an inaccurate complaint, arsenic we volition show successful court. We are sickened by the reprehensible behaviour of the DFEH to resistance into the ailment the tragic termination of an worker whose passing has nary bearing whatsoever connected this lawsuit and with nary respect for her grieving family. While we find this behaviour to beryllium disgraceful and unprofessional, it is unluckily an illustration of however they person conducted themselves passim the people of their investigation. It is this benignant of irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving galore of the State’s champion businesses retired of California.

The representation the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today. Over the past respective years and continuing since the archetypal probe started, we’ve made important changes to code institution civilization and bespeak much diverseness wrong our enactment teams. We’ve amplified interior programs and channels for employees to study violations, including the “ASK List” with a confidential integrity hotline, and introduced an Employee Relations squad dedicated to investigating worker concerns. We person strengthened our committedness to diversity, equity and inclusion and combined our Employee Networks astatine a planetary level, to supply further support. Employees indispensable besides acquisition regular anti-harassment grooming and person done truthful for galore years.

We enactment tremendous effort successful creating just and rewarding compensation packages and policies that bespeak our civilization and business, and we strive to wage each employees reasonably for adjacent oregon substantially akin work. We instrumentality a assortment of proactive steps to guarantee that wage is driven by non-discriminatory factors. For example, we reward and compensate employees based connected their performance, and we behaviour extended anti-discrimination trainings including for those who are portion of the compensation process.

We are assured successful our quality to show our practices arsenic an adjacent accidental leader that fosters a supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace for our people, and we are committed to continuing this effort successful the years to come. It is simply a shame that the DFEH did not privation to prosecute with america connected what they thought they were seeing successful their investigation.

Since the suit was revealed, astatine slightest 5 erstwhile Blizzard employees person travel guardant connected societal media to corroborate details similar the “cube crawl,” oregon that they had to woody with intersexual harassment, oregon that they saw it happen, oregon that they really appeared anonymously successful the suit. We’re not embedding oregon linking to their posts without permission, since we’re disquieted they mightiness beryllium targeted online, too.

The California DFEH was besides progressive with a large intersexual harassment and favoritism suit against Riot Games, which initially landed astatine a colony of conscionable $10 million earlier the DFEH suggested it should beryllium $400 cardinal oregon more.

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