California sues gaming company Activision Blizzard over workplace harassment of women

Irvine, California - The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging that the video game company promoted a "frat boy culture" in its premises wherein female employees were subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation.

The gaming company is being sued by the state of California after a two-year investigation revealed women were being continually harassed by their male counterparts (stock image).
The gaming company is being sued by the state of California after a two-year investigation revealed women were being continually harassed by their male counterparts (stock image).  © 123RF/ piter2121

The state department ran a two-year investigation into the allegations of abuse and found them to be true.

The company openly discriminated against female employees in various areas, including employment conditions like compensation, assignment, promotion, and termination.

Kotaku reported that the pay disparities between male and female employees were identified as being very wide and women were fired faster than men and promoted more slowly.

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Even more disturbing were reports of racial discrimination in which a female Black employee was subjected to targeted micromanagement and forced to submit written summaries of what she planned to do when she asked for time off, a practice required of no other employees.

The company was also known to have done nothing to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment against female employees.

In the lawsuit filed before the Los Angeles Supreme Court, it is alleged that the female employees, who consist of 20% of the employees, were exposed to a "pervasive frat boy workplace culture," which included "cube crawls," during which male employees would get drunk and crawl their way through various cubicles in the office and even physically grope female employees.

Female employees had to pick up the slack of their male counterparts

Female employees at Blizzard reported being groped by drunk male employees (stock image).
Female employees at Blizzard reported being groped by drunk male employees (stock image).  © 123RF/ zinkevych

The lawsuit alleged that the male employees would spend the whole work day playing video games, talk in sexual undertones, and joke openly about rape in front of the female employees.

After being subjected to increasing sexual harassment, one female employee took her own life says Bloomberg. She was on a business trip at the time when her male supervisor revealed he had brought sexual paraphernalia with him according to Kotaku.

Most of the work would also be delegated to the female employees as well. Many reported having to handle increased workloads though their supervisors knew the male coworkers responsible for those tasks were simply playing video games instead of working.

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Female employees have alleged that they have been denied promotions due to the possibility of them getting pregnant, being criticized for leaving to pick up children from daycare, and being kicked out of lactation rooms so male colleagues could use them for meetings.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing hopes that with the lawsuit the company will ensure compliance with workplace protections and clear unpaid wages, implement pay adjustments, back pay and lost wages, and benefits for female employees.

If you or someone you know need help, please contact the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support.

Cover photo: 123RF/ piter2121

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