Activision Blizzard gets sued by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) over a “frat boy” workplace culture that subjects its female employees to gender-based discrimination and “constant sexual harassment.”
After two years of a long investigation, the case was finally filed. The investigation reveals that there has been clear proof of sexual harassment and discrimination towards female employees. The investigation also reveals there has been discrimination against pregnant women, unequal pay, and retaliation.
Although some allegations have been made about Blizzard for the same reasons in the past, the company could only respond to these claims as “action has been taken”. In addition, Blizzard considered these claims to be completely fabricated and a case of unfair labeling, and rejected the claims.
In June, DFEH clarified the allegations. Although it tried to resolve these issues through mediation without litigation, three sessions of mediation yielded no results.
Blizzard continued to deny the allegations. The company made its defense against these allegations that the company was not the current Blizzard at that time and that Blizzard has changed a lot in a positive way in terms of company ethics. However, no matter what Blizzard says, DHEF is determined to pursue this case to the end and is seeking punitive measures, penalties, injunctive relief, and compensation for the all female workforce in the company.
Activision Blizzard’s statement on this subject
Activision Blizzard has made the following statements on this case to Polygon:
“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, the action was taken to address the issue.
The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived. They were required by law to adequately investigate and to have good faith discussions with us to better understand and to resolve any claims or concerns before going to litigation, but they failed to do so. Instead, they rushed to file an inaccurate complaint, as we will demonstrate in court. We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to drag into 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 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. We’ve amplified internal programs and channels for employees to report violations, including the “ASK List” with a confidential integrity hotline, and introduced an Employee Relations team dedicated to investigating employee concerns. We have strengthened our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and combined our Employee Networks at a global level, to provide additional support. Employees must also undergo regular anti-harassment training and have done so for many years.
We put tremendous effort into creating fair and rewarding compensation packages and policies that reflect our culture and business, and we strive to pay all employees fairly for equal or substantially similar work. We take a variety of proactive steps to ensure that pay is driven by non-discriminatory factors. For example, we reward and compensate employees based on their performance, and we conduct extensive anti-discrimination trainings 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 people, and we are committed to continuing this effort in the years to come. It is a shame that the DFEH did not want to engage with us on what they thought they were seeing in their investigation.”