The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard that violates the state’s civil rights and equal pay laws, in regards to the treatment of women and other marginalized groups.
According to Bloomberg, the company has been fostering a “frat boy” culture that is “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.”
The two-year investigation led to countless incidents from casual discrimination to sexual assault and
In one instance, it referred to the suicide of one developer following a trip with her supervisor. That supervisor brought “butt plugs and lubricant” in expectations of coercion towards certain activities.
Also, in the lawsuit details, the report described something called a “cube crawl.”
“In the office, women are subjected to ‘cube crawls’ in which male employees drink copious amounts of alcohol as they ‘crawl’ their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees. Male employees proudly come into work hungover, play video games for long periods of time during work while delegating their responsibilities to female employees, engage in banter about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies, and joke about rape.”
The lawsuit further detailed that females that complained to human resources were “subjected to retaliation, including but not limited to being deprived of work on projects, unwillingly transferred to different units, and selected for layoffs.”
Also in the lawsuit, the pay gap between male and female co-works in similar roles has women in a much lower compensation rate. Company opportunities primarily going to men first, thus stifling further advancements for women within the company.
In a statement to Game Informer, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson issued a statement that Activision Blizzard cooperated with the DFEH, but the agency “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.”
The company clarified that DFEH dragged “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. While we find this behavior to be disgraceful and unprofessional, it is, unfortunately, an example of how they have conducted themselves throughout the course of their investigation. It is this type of irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.”
The spokesman further set details that Blizzard had made significant changes to address company culture, reflect more diversity within the leadership in the past several years. It includes encouraging employees to report violations, a confidential integrity hotline, and introducing an Employee Relations team investigating employee concerns. Also, the company has taken steps “to pay all employees fairly for equal or substantially similar work” that reward and compensate employees based on their performance.
Currently, Blizzard Activision’s female workforce comprises 20 percent of the employees.
To read more about the court case, click here.