State of Ca. sues video game company Activision Blizzard over “frat boy” workplace

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The State of California has filed a lawsuit against video game company Activision Blizzard after several women have come forward with serious claims of workplace discrimination and harassment.

Activision Blizzard is based in Santa Monica, California, and has been established as a worldwide leading video game development company. Their website states that they have over 4,000 employees, and close to 40 locations across the world.

The lawsuit begins by stating that only approximately 20 percent of the company’s workforce is female and that the top leadership is exclusively male and Caucasian. It also states that according to Activision Blizzard records, the few women who have reached higher roles in the company have earned less salary and total compensation than males who are in similar roles.

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, publicly earned almost $155 million in 2020 alone, while only having a salary just shy of $1.5 million.

The lawsuit claims that many women have been forced to leave the company after being unfairly treated, with treatment including receiving less starting pay than males, getting slow promotions, and quick terminations that have been the exact opposite of what male employees have experienced.

The lawsuit goes on to state how women have experienced a “frat boy” culture in the workplace. Women allegedly are subjected to “cube crawls,” meaning their male coworkers binge on extreme amounts of alcohol and “crawl” their way through the office cubicles while harassing women with inappropriate behavior. It also states that male employees “proudly” come into work hungover, brag about their sexual encounters, all while playing video games, and delegate responsibilities to the female workers.

One severe incident is described in the lawsuit, detailing that a female employee committed suicide during a businesses trip with a male supervisor who brought sexual items with him on the trip.

These allegations made their way through the ladder at Activision Blizzard and allegedly made their way to Blizzard President J. Allen Brack, but no response was taken and employees were continued to be subject to harassment. Some complaints were not kept confidential, which lead to the female employees being a subject of retaliation and a target for layoffs.

The lawsuit was filed by the Plaintiff Department of Fair Employment of Housing (DFEH), a state agency tasked with these types of investigations. Activision Blizzard has not yet made any comment on the lawsuit. To read the full lawsuit, click here.

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