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California Sues Activision Blizzard Over Workplace Sexual Harassment

A “frat boy” workplace

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over the company’s allegedly-toxic workplace culture.

The lawsuit states Activision Blizzard’s “frat boy” workplace culture is a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.” An example was a “cube crawl,” which is when a male employee drinks alcohol while “crawling” through different office cubicles and engaging in inappropriate behavior with female employees.

Other examples including male employees shirking their responsibilities by playing video games, open talking about female bodies, and making jokes about rape.

Female employees were reportedly discouraged from making official complaints to Human Resources. When they did make complaints, they experienced retaliation from their male colleagues.

The DFEH wants an injunction against Activision Blizzard to force the company to comply with state workplace laws. The injunction would also force the company to address “unpaid wages, pay adjustments, back pay, and lost wages and benefits for female employees.”

In response, Activision Blizzard called the DFEH and its lawsuit “irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats.” Here’s the full statement:

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, 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 updated our Code of Conduct to emphasize a strict non-retaliation focus, 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 in 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.

Source
Bloomberg

Williams Pelegrin

Williams Pelegrin is a Managing Editor for CultureDent. When he's not writing up news, he's taking a walk around the neighborhood with his wife and his dog. Either that, or drinking a cup of hot chocolate. Or both.
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