Storm of Allegations and Scandals
Activision Blizzard, a gaming company known for AAA games such as Call of Duty and Overwatch, is now sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over multiple allegations of a toxic workplace that led to years of sexual harassment. Recently leading to one woman taking her own life.
The formal complaint, filed by the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing on Wednesday, alleges that Activision Blizzard has “fostered” the sexist culture where women were not only continuously subjected to harassment, but also receiving lesser pay and facing more discrimination.
“All employers should ensure that their employees are being paid equally and take all steps to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation,” said DFEH Director Kevin Kish. “This is especially important for employers in male-dominated industries, such as technology and gaming.”
The complaint goes in depth and reveals that when women came forward with complaints, instead of taking effective measures, Activision deprived them of work projects, transferred them, or eventually outright laying them off.
Tragically the “frat boy” work environment has even lead to a female worker recently committing suicide, and according to the DFEH, it was due to a sexual relationship with her male supervisor. She had also been the subject of another form of harassment when another employee had allegedly passed around intimate photos of her at a party.
“We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to drag into the complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose passing has no bearing whatsoever on this case and with no regard for her grieving family.” Activision Blizzard responded, “We are confident in our ability to demonstrate our practices as an equal opportunity employer that fosters a supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace for our people, and we are committed to continuing this effort in the years to come. It is a shame that the DFEH did not want to engage with us on what they thought they were seeing in their investigation.”
Other allegations highlight that women represent only 20% of the company’s workforce, leadership positions are almost exclusively occupied by white males, and that female employees receive lower starting pay and earn “substantially” less for similar work.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, if you’re in the US. For international resources click here.