The California State Attorney General has sued Activision Blizzard, a major game publisher, for sexual harassment and discrimination against female employees. The company is accused of having a “pervasive ‘frat boy’ culture” in which women were consistently subjected to derogatory comments and offensive humor, and where men were regularly promoted over their female peers. The company initially denied the allegations, but has since moderated its stance due to a public backlash.
Who is Activision Blizzard?
Activision Blizzard was originally founded in 2008 after the merger of two other game publishers, Activision, Inc. and Vivendi Games. It is one of the largest game publishers in the world, with an annual revenue of over $8 billion. It is responsible for some of the most popular games and game franchises in America, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch, among others.
What Are They Accused Of?
The company has been accused of creating a culture of sexual harassment and abuse that resulted in severe distress for female employees. This allegedly included mundane forms of employment discrimination, such as refusing to promote or grant raises to female employees, as well as punishing them for minor mistakes while allowing male employees to get away with extremely unprofessional behavior. Male employees, meanwhile, would push their own work onto the female employees, while reaping the rewards and credit for the work done.
However, there are far more outlandish and grotesque claims included in the Attorney General’s lawsuit. Among these include claims that men would engage in “cube crawls,” where they would go around the office drinking and harassing women in their cubicles. In one especially heinous case, a woman allegedly committed suicide while on a company trip after it was revealed nude photos of her had been shared by her supervisor with other male employees.
What Consequences Are They Facing?
Activision Blizzard is being sued for sexual harassment and discrimination, retaliation against employees who reported the harassment and discrimination, failure to prevent harassment and discrimination, as well as unpaid wages for female staff. In addition to compensation for all of these alleged employment law violations, the Attorney General is seeking punitive damages due to the brazen and harmful nature of the company’s misconduct. They are also seeking compensation for attorney’s fees and other costs for the lawsuit.
How Has the Company Reacted?
The company initially denied the allegations, calling them “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.” However, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kottick has since stated that the initial response of the company was “tone deaf.” The company still intends to fight the allegations against it, and continues to deny it has engaged in any wrongdoing.
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