California Government Sues Call Of Duty Publisher Over ‘Horrifying’ Sexual Harassment Claims
Warning: Contains Distressing Content
Activision Blizzard, the company behind Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, has been sued for its alleged ‘frat boy’ culture, with appalling accusations of discrimination, sexual harassment and rape jokes in the workplace.
The ‘explosive’ lawsuit was filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) on Tuesday, July 20, in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
It comes after a two-year investigation into the company’s practices, with its female employees, who make up 20% of the workforce, uncovering a stream of abuse and harassment in a ‘pervasive frat boy workplace culture’.
Male employees reportedly take part in ‘cube crawls’, where they ‘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,’ the lawsuit reads, as per Bloomberg Law‘s initial report.
They’re also said to come into work hungover and play games during their shift ‘while delegating their responsibilities to female employees, engage in banter about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies, and joke about rape’.
On behalf of female employees, the DFEH is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, unpaid wages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief and equitable relief for employment discrimination because of sex, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment and unequal pay.
Women reportedly receive less pay throughout their tenure at the company, and few reach top positions due to sexist concerns over pregnancy and criticisms over childcare. ‘Defendants promote women more slowly and terminate them more quickly than their male counterparts,’ the lawsuit reads.
It also includes a harrowing account of a female employee who took her own life. ‘A female employee committed suicide while on a company trip due to a sexual relationship that she had been having with her male supervisor. The male supervisor was found by police to have brought a butt plug and lubricant on his business trip,’ it reads.
‘Another employee confirmed that the deceased female employee may have been suffering from other sexual harassment at work prior to her death. Specifically, at a holiday party before her death, male co-workers were alleged to be passing around a picture of the deceased’s vagina,’ it adds.
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson issued a lengthy statement following the allegations. ‘We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind. We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue,’ they said.
However, they also said the lawsuit includes ‘distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past… the picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today. Over the past several years and continuing since the initial investigation started, we’ve made significant changes to address company culture and reflect more diversity within our leadership teams.’
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CreditsBloomberg Law and 1 other
In The Superior Court Of The State Of California In And For The County Of Los Angeles