Why is Activision getting sued?
California Sues Gaming Giant Activision Blizzard Over Unequal Pay, Sexual Harassment. A lawsuit filed by the state of California on Wednesday alleges sexual harassment, gender discrimination and violations of the state's equal pay law at the video game giant Activision Blizzard. NPRSuit Claims Sexual Harassment, Discrimination At Game Studio Activision Blizzard
This week, news broke of a lawsuit being filed against Activision Blizzard by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing regarding female employees that were reportedly overlooked, underpaid and harassed at the company, and a new document was released based on a two year investigation. It contained details of reported stories from women ranging from frustrating to sickening, and Activision Blizzard has simultaneously pushed back on what they call many “distorted, and in many cases false ” accusations from “state bureaucrats” while also promising to do better and take all claims seriously.
The story has been widely spread around the internet as some fans call for boycotts of Activision Blizzard projects and other women have been speaking up both to verify their mistreatment at the company, but with many others saying this kind of treatment is widespread across publishers and developers all over the industry.
One company has decided to address the issues publicly, given their past relationship with Activision Blizzard. That would be Bungie, who partnered with Activision to launch Destiny back in 2014 after they left Microsoft and Halo behind. While the partnership resulted in the successful launch of a mega-franchise, it was not without issue, and Bungie very publicly split with Activision in 2019.
Without naming Activision, Bungie issued a statement about the claims and reinforced its own commitment to creating a welcoming environment for women and minority groups. I can’t embed the entire Tweet thread, which was also linked to in the “This Week at Bungie” news post, so I’ll quote it below:
The general sentiment from Destiny fans has been something like “no wonder Bungie left Activision” or “thank god they got out when they did!” We have not heard reports of specific instances of harassment at Bungie when it was with Activision, and nothing to say specifically that was a factor in why the split happened. Activision reportedly believed Destiny was not making enough money for them (at least compared to a mega-giant like Call of Duty), while Bungie believed revenue was just fine, and were more concerned with the blistering pace of content the Activision deal demanded, a huge expansion every year and sequels developed at the same time.
Bungie has started forming inclusivity clubs over the past year or so, Women at Bungie, Black at Bungie, Trans at Bungie, to help those groups find support at the company. Like Bungie says, it’s likely not a perfect workplace, but the general sentiment I see from there (I know/follow more Bungie employees than most) is pretty positive about the conditions there.
Whether any current Bungie employees are involved in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard is unclear, but it’s possible, given the company’s time working with them, and the fact that some current Bungie employees used to be with Activision Blizzard.
What this lawsuit will yield remains unknown, and we don’t know how long this process will take. We’ll see what further steps Activision Blizzard takes to address this, and see if Bungie continues to live up to its own promises not to be the next industry cautionary tale.
Read full article at Forbes
23 July, 2021 - 03:01pm
California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleges video game company Activision Blizzard fosters a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women”
Activision Blizzard is one of the largest and most valuable video game companies in the industry and is the developer of popular titles including Call of Duty, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and the Candy Crush Saga. Following a two-year investigation from the state agency, the DFEH filed the suit against the company at Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that Activision Blizzard fosters a “frat boy culture” that enabled sexual harassment and discrimination toward women.
That culture “is a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women,” the suit says. “Female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, including having to continually fend off unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male workers and supervisors… High ranking executives and creators engaged in blatant sexual harassment without repercussions.”
During “cube crawls,” Activision’s male employees would allegedly get drunk before sexually harassing women at their cubicles. They’d come to work hungover the next day and “play video games for long periods of time while delegating their responsibilities to female employees, engage in banter about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies, and joke about rape,” according to the lawsuit.
One of Activision Blizzard’s woman employees committed suicide during a company trip, allegedly because of a sexual relationship she had with her supervisor. The suit further claims that before she died, some of the woman’s other co-workers were passing around a photo of her genitals at a holiday party.
Beyond sexual harassment, the DFEH’s suit further alleges women were regularly discriminated against through pay disparities, less promising job opportunities, and little upward mobility in the company. Activision Blizzard, which has 9,500 employees, is 20 percent women, the suit says. Women were given fewer opportunities, less stock options in the companies, and frequently passed over for promotions they seemed more qualified for than their male counterparts, based on their time at the company and performance reviews. Both Activision’s executives and Human Resources department did little to mitigate the harassment and discrimination, the suit says. In multiple instances, HR didn’t keep claims confidential, and supervisors would retaliate by transferring and laying women who issued a claim.
Activision Blizzard didn’t immediately respond to Rolling Stone’s request for a statement. In a statement to Bloomberg Law, who first reported the news, the company called agency’s claims “distorted and in many cases false.” Activision Blizzard said it “[values] 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.”
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