Content Warning: Please note that the following article and the sources linked within detail topics such as discrimination, sexual harassment, and suicide.
Activision Blizzard, the publisher of franchises like Call of Duty and Overwatch, is being sued over incidents of discrimination and misconduct in the workplace, with claims that the company oversees a “frat boy” culture. The 29-page filing, as reported by Bloomberg Law, speaks of various instances of misconduct, including the “sexual harassment” of female employees.
The lawsuit has been tabled by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, a state organisation tasked with “investigating and prosecuting civil rights actions” and it alleges of a “pervasive frat boy workplace culture” and cites a number of troubling examples.
It alleges that women have to “continually fend off unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male co-workers and supervisors” and also alludes to instances of “groping”. Some of the examples get increasingly disturbing, such as one known as the “cube crawl” in which “male employees drink copious amounts of alcohol as they ‘crawl’ their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behaviour toward female employees”.
The lawsuit goes on with more alarming allegations, including examples of gender and race discrimination, demeaning behaviour, and much more. It adds that, while complaints were made internally at the company – including directly to Blizzard boss J. Allen Brack – the “defendants failed to take effective remedial measures in response to these complaints”.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is demanding a trial by jury. However, in response to the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard provided a statement to The Verge, describing it as “irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California”. You can read its full rebuttal through here.