The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has accused Activision Blizzard of fostering a “frat boy” office culture that sees girls subjected to sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation. Some of those allegations are distressing, so we’re beginning with a set off warning for the matters of suicide, harassment, and rape.

As reported by Bloomberg, the lawsuit comes after a two-year investigation that led to a complaint being filed on Tuesday within the Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges that the writer has discriminated towards its feminine workers over phrases and circumstances of employment reminiscent of compensation, promotion, and termination. Women are allegedly promoted extra slowly than their counterparts and terminated “more quickly”. The lawsuit additional highlights a scarcity of girls in management positions and pay discrepancies on the govt degree between women and men.

The lawsuit additionally accuses Activision Blizzard’s management of constantly failing to take steps to stop discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The firm’s “frat-boy culture” is described as making a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women”, with workers reportedly being subjected to inappropriate feedback, sexual advances, and undesirable bodily touching and groping. The grievance paints an image of a office through which males would “play video games during work, engage in banter about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies, and make numerous jokes about rape”.

The lawsuit cites girls on the World of Warcraft crew who notice that males and supervisors would allegedly hit on them, make derogatory feedback, and “otherwise engage in demeaning behaviour”. The behaviour was reportedly identified to supervisors and “indeed encouraged by them”, with one supervisor allegedly encouraging a subordinate to “buy a prostitute to cure his bad mood”.

One significantly harrowing instance from the investigation alleges one girl took her personal life on a enterprise journey “due to a sexual relationship that she had been having with her male supervisor”. One worker talked about within the lawsuit additional alleges that the lady was subjected to sexual harassment at work earlier than her dying.

The go well with says that Activision Blizzard’s “compliance with California’s broad workplace protections is long overdue”, and that “to enforce such compliance”, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing “brings this government enforcement action seeking to remedy, prevent, and deter [Activision Blizzard’s] violations of [the] state’s civil rights and equal pay laws.”

Activision Blizzard has offered a press release to The Verge that calls the lawsuit “irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable state bureaucrats that are driving many of the state’s best businesses out of California”. You can discover it beneath in full:

“We worth range and try to foster a office that gives inclusivity for everybody. There is not any place in our firm or trade, or any trade, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any type. We take each allegation significantly and examine all claims. In instances associated to misconduct, motion was taken to handle the difficulty.

“The DFEH contains distorted, and in lots of instances false, descriptions of Blizzard’s previous. We have been extraordinarily cooperative with the DFEH all through their investigation, together with offering them with intensive knowledge and ample documentation, however they refused to tell us what points they perceived. They had been required by legislation to adequately examine and to have good religion discussions with us to raised perceive and to resolve any claims or issues earlier than going to litigation, however they failed to take action. Instead, they rushed to file an inaccurate grievance, as we’ll display in court docket.

“We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to pull into the grievance the tragic suicide of an worker whose passing has no bearing by any means on this case and with no regard for her grieving household. While we discover this behaviour to be disgraceful and unprofessional, it’s sadly an instance of how they’ve performed themselves all through the course of their investigation. It is this sort of irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable State bureaucrats which are driving lots of the State’s finest companies out of California.

“The image the DFEH paints isn’t the Blizzard office of right now. Over the previous a number of years and persevering with for the reason that preliminary investigation began, we’ve made important modifications to handle firm culture and mirror extra range inside our management groups. We’ve amplified inside packages and channels for workers to report violations, together with the ‘ASK List’ with a confidential integrity hotline, and launched an Employee Relations crew devoted to investigating worker issues. We have strengthened our dedication to range, fairness and inclusion and mixed our Employee Networks at a worldwide degree, to offer further help. Employees should additionally endure common anti-harassment coaching and have achieved so for a few years.

“We put large effort in creating truthful and rewarding compensation packages and insurance policies that mirror our culture and enterprise, and we attempt to pay all workers pretty for equal or considerably comparable work. We take quite a lot of proactive steps to make sure that pay is pushed by non-discriminatory components. For instance, we reward and compensate workers primarily based on their efficiency, and we conduct intensive anti-discrimination trainings together with for individuals who are a part of the compensation course of.

“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.”

Following the publication of the lawsuit, quite a few former workers have come ahead on social media to share their experiences on the firm or corroborate particulars within the report, such because the “cube crawl”.

We’ve reached out to Activision Blizzard, and can replace this story if we hear again.

Image credit score: Blizzard 

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