The lawsuit, led by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, claims that Activision Blizzard Inc. is a “breeding ground” for sexual harassment.
Activision Blizzard Inc., the company behind world-famous video game franchises like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, is facing a civil lawsuit alleging gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and violations of California’s equal pay statutes.
According to National Public Radio, the complaint was filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing on Wednesday. In its lawsuit, the agency alleges that Activision Blizzard Inc. “fostered a sexist culture” wherein women were routinely paid less than men.
The department also says that female Activision Blizzard employees faced regular harassment, up to and including physical groping.
Activision’s workplace, adds the lawsuit, “is a breeding ground for sexual harassment and discrimination against women.”
“Female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, including having to continually fend off unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male co-workers and supervisors and being groped at the ‘cube crawls’ and other company events.”
The DFEH cites one instance in which a female suicide committed suicide during a business trip, allegedly after being in a sexual relationship with a male supervisor.
That supervisor, says The New York Times, shared explicit photos of her with coworkers and friends before her suicide.
The lawsuit alleges that, not only did senior Activision Blizzard officials ignore women’s complaints, they actively retaliated against employees who spoke out against the abuse.
Kevin Kish, the director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, said it is critical that every industry ensure equity in pay and treatment.
“All employers should ensure that their employees are being paid equally and take all steps to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation,” Kish said in a statement. “This is especially important for employers in male-dominated industries such as technology and gaming.”
However, Activision Blizzard has disputed the agency’s claims, saying that California is repeating exaggerated, distorted, or outright fabricated charges.
“The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past,” Activision Blizzard Inc. said in a statement partially reprinted by NPR. “The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today.”
Activision Blizzard further said that California erred by failing to discuss the allegations before filing a lawsuit.
“It is this type of irresponsible behavior from unaccountable state bureaucrats that are driving many of the state’s best businesses out of California,” Activision Blizzard stated.”It is this type of irresponsible behavior from unaccountable state bureaucrats that are driving many of the state’s best businesses out of California.”