Activision Blizzard sued by California for alleged sexist “frat boy” culture

Activision Blizzard faces a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for promoting what the agency describes as a “frat boy” workplace. As first reported by Bloomberg Law, the DFEH sued the gaming giant after a two-year investigation in which it concluded that the company discriminated against female employees. In addition to receiving lower wages than their male counterparts, female employees were also reportedly subjected to constant sexual harassment.

The DFEH listed several findings of its investigation in its complaint (PDF). Activision Blizzard’s workforce is only about 20 percent women, and very few of them reach senior positions in the company, the court document said. Additionally, those who reach higher positions earn less pay and total compensation than their male peers. Other employees in non-executive positions are also paid less, promoted more slowly and fired more quickly.

DFEH also said the accused’s “frat boy” culture is “fertile ground for harassment and discrimination against women.” Employees must constantly push back against unwanted sexual comments, the agency wrote. They have to put up with being groped during “cube crawls”, during which the male employees also drank alcohol while moving in different cabins. The document mentioned a particularly egregious case, in which an employee committed suicide while on a business trip with a male supervisor who brought sex toys with him on the trip. According to Bloomberg, this employee was severely harassed before her death, with her nude photos released at a company holiday party.

Activision Blizzard’s HR department has received numerous complaints of harassment, discrimination and retaliation, the DFEH said. However, the Respondent would not have taken “effective corrective measures in response” to them. In addition, people were apparently discouraged from filing a complaint, as human resources staff were known to be close to alleged harassers.

The state agency has filed a lawsuit to force the video game titan to comply with California workplace protections. He is also seeking unpaid wages and salary adjustments for female employees.

Activision Blizzard, however, denies DEFH’s claims. In a statement, the company said the agency’s lawsuit “includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.” He called the DFEH’s complaint “inaccurate” and described the lawsuit as the “type of irresponsible behavior by irresponsible state bureaucrats who are chasing many of the best companies in the state of California.”

The entire statement, courtesy of Kotaku, bed :

“We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusiveness for everyone. There is no room in our business or our industry, or in any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind We take every allegation seriously and investigate all complaints Where there is misconduct action has been taken to address the issue.

The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We were extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with abundant data and documentation, but they declined to inform us of any issues they perceived. They were required by law to adequately investigate and have good faith discussions with us to better understand and resolve any claims or concerns before going to court, but they failed to do so. Instead, they rushed to file an inaccurate complaint, as we will demonstrate in court. We are disgusted by the reprehensible behavior of the DFEH to drag in the complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose death has no impact on this case and without regard for her grieving family. While we find this behavior shameful and unprofessional, it is unfortunately an example of how they behaved throughout their investigation. It is this type of irresponsible behavior by irresponsible state bureaucrats that are driving many of the best companies in the state out of California.

The image that DFEH presents is not today’s Blizzard workplace. Over the past few years and since the start of the initial survey, we have made significant changes to reflect the corporate culture and reflect more diversity within our leadership teams. We updated our Code of Conduct to emphasize a strict non-retaliation goal, amplified internal programs and channels for employees to report violations, including the “ASK List” with a hotline. confidential integrity; and established a dedicated employee relations team to investigate employees. concerns. We have strengthened our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and have combined our employee networks globally to provide additional support. Employees are also required to take regular anti-harassment training and have been doing so for many years.

We go to great lengths to create fair and rewarding compensation programs and policies that reflect our culture and our business, and we strive to pay all employees fairly for equal or substantially similar work. We take a variety of proactive measures to ensure that compensation is determined by non-discriminatory factors. For example, we reward and compensate employees based on their performance, and we conduct in-depth anti-discrimination training, including for those who are part of the compensation process.

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 employees, and we are committed to continuing this effort in the years to come. It is a pity that the DFEH did not want to discuss with us what it thought it saw in its investigation. “

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