The State of California is suing Activision Blizzard over allegations of workplace discrimination

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Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit from the State of California regarding claims of inequality in pay and workplace discrimination against women working for the company. California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing agency (DFEH) has filed a 29-page legal document against Activision, which is headquartered in California, alleging that there is a "rampant frat boy workplace culture" that has lead to harassment, dismissal of complaints made to human resources regarding discrimination, and more, with even evidence to prove such, following the conclusion to a two-year-long investigation.

The DFEH found that women employed at Activision Blizzard made less money than male employees with the same job title or for the same amount of work, in addition to finding that women were fired on a much more frequent basis compared to men, despite the former only making up around 20% of the company's workforce. Other claims include that Activision's higher-ups are complicit in and take part in disrespectful "cube crawl" events, where male employees will, "drink copious amounts of alcohol as they "crawl" their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees".

The goal of the lawsuit is to make Activision Blizzard comply with California's labor code, and adhere to equal pay laws within the state via an injunction, as well as seeking relief payments for unpaid wages and damages for the affected women defendants who have worked for or still work for Activision Blizzard.

Following the filing of the suit, an official statement from Activision was sent to media outlets, claiming that the allegations were "distorted, and in many cases, false descriptions of Blizzard's past", adding that they have been cooperative with the DFEH throughout the past two year's worth of their investigation. From Blizzard's perspective, the company has, supposedly, "made significant" changes in recent years and have implemented "anti-harassment training", among other preventions.

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 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.

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Edgarska

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I read that and am not sure what is so horrifying about it. It is also conflating a few things.

Going by what is read there.
Employee was in a sexual relationship with supervisor* (implied consent in that one -- would have presumably said if it was not given the contents of the rest of the document that don't shy away from accusations of unpleasantness, though that might be reserved for later rather than make an accusation now that could come back to bite them -- I don't know offhand what they are required to claim at this stage in this sort of case and whether they can introduce such notions later).
Where they got it was the fault of that relationship I don't know. It is there and does appear to be a claim so do I presume it was a note or statement at time of?
Butt plug and lube is not my idea of a good time and largely immaterial in this if we only have what is written there. If they were in a consensual relationship however (again it is the implication/what is understood from the things written there) then that is at best an effort to colour the reader's opinion.
Spicy photo being shared (allegedly) is an unrelated action as far as what has been written prior is concerned. Could certainly be a contributing/motivating factor to a suicide, and in that case one wonders what the relevance of the trip and relationship with supervisor is in this -- could just as easily be read as some dickheads at work caused a guy's girlfriend to kill herself if we are going by things suggested. This also says nothing about baseline mental state (and I would not necessarily expect the state to mention that -- present strongest) but as I already mentioned colouring things then is dubious to go there myself.

*no mention of whether it was prexisting, generally consensual (supervisory roles might well be a complicating factor, "other harassment" potentially implying that such a power difference is inherently a harassing activity but outside of military circles that is harder to go for law), pressured, her sleeping her way to the top... by and large all reasons to not dip pen in company ink but that is probably a different discussion.

That's a lot of words to say nothing.
You're purposefully ignoring the fact that it was passed around at the office.
 

mspy

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There will always be bad apples in every work environment, the actions of a few employees should not speak for a company that has thousands more. Also the disproportion amount of the number of males vs females employees may not have anything to do with discrimination but with the simple fact that some business attract more males than females and some are the opposite. I imagine that it is way harder to hire top notch female devs vs males simple because there aren't many out there, in fact I think that some companies are hiring females regardless of skill just to improve their male/female ratio and look good on the eyes of the public and this may be the cause that having a female with the same job title may be paying less than having a male (not saying that this is what is happening at blizzard btw).
I'm not defending anyone here, but nowadays everything seems to be consider discrimination... next up companies will have to hire people with lower IQ (regardless of being male or female) just because it will be consider discrimination to only hire people with higher IQ.
 
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Skelletonike

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I was confused by the word relationship as well, I asked over on Reddit and people seem to agree it's just a wording issue. It definitely was manipulative/non-consensual.

I'm guessing they're just assuming it to be so.
I mean, facts are what matter when it comes to these things, actual proof. I see a lot of conjecture tbh.
 

VartioArtel

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Very skeptical, I am not a fan of the State claiming a grievance. When a crime has been committed I am a firm believer of "Show me the victim" and it seems as it should be said victims bringing that lawsuit and not the state.

Civil cases are rife with abuse as they don't have a high burden of proof as a criminal case would.

50/50 on if it's Woke political bullying or a legit issue.

I think the reason the state is bringing it might be BECAUSE it's a Super-Corporation. This isn't the sort of group that the victims can afford a court case against. But if the state brings it on their behalf, then they have all the funds they need.
 

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I'm guessing they're just assuming it to be so.
I mean, facts are what matter when it comes to these things, actual proof. I see a lot of conjecture tbh.

It's plausible though, considering it's mentioned there was past harassment as well, so it's unlikely she went with a real relationship after with one of those people. Though yeah, proof does matter, but it doesn't change that this needs attention and action. The report should've been clearer though, at least it would be clarified in court most likely.
 

FAST6191

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I was confused by the word relationship as well, I asked over on Reddit and people seem to agree it's just a wording issue. It definitely was manipulative/non-consensual.
Is this some kind of (ex) employees of activision reddit page or something similarly with knowledge of facts of the case?
The number of typos in that generally speaks to a less than stellar attention to detail but at the same time reading in things that are not written, especially not directly within the main factual allegations section, is a dubious path to take.

That's a lot of words to say nothing.
You're purposefully ignoring the fact that it was passed around at the office.
You mean when I spent a whole paragraph (one of three + footnote serving as expansion on earlier point and a handful of short lines that make up the entire post), one leading to/serving as the summary of the post, talking about it and said it (though even the document says allegedly as far as sharing of photo) could be a contributing/motivating factor?
While I did state it as far as I am concerned then for your edification. If indeed a photo of such a nature (presumably one intended to be private or taken illicitly) was passed around by the employees, and such a thing was known to/reported to, endorsed by and/or later not subject to appropriate investigation/appropriate discipline by the management or maybe HR then that is a very bad look, even more so if the timelines have it such that reporting/disciplinary action happened prior to the suicide, and potentially cause for some kind of sanction in this case.
If this is further compounded by the same employee being some flavour of coerced by a direct supervisor into a relationship, and again known/sanctioned/ill investigated or punished with same note about timelines, then that is further damning still, however that does not seem to be the claim made if the wording there is anything to go by.
 

Jiehfeng

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Is this some kind of (ex) employees of activision reddit page or something similarly with knowledge of facts of the case?
The number of typos in that generally speaks to a less than stellar attention to detail but at the same time reading in things that are not written, especially not directly within the main factual allegations section, is a dubious path to take.

No, nothing of the sort. And I don't think there's any way we can know whether it was a real relationship or it was just weirdly worded that way, so take that as a grain of salt. One thing's for sure though, a lot of those employees are disgusting.
 

diggeloid

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Is this some kind of (ex) employees of activision reddit page or something similarly with knowledge of facts of the case?
The number of typos in that generally speaks to a less than stellar attention to detail but at the same time reading in things that are not written, especially not directly within the main factual allegations section, is a dubious path to take.


You mean when I spent a whole paragraph (one of three + footnote serving as expansion on earlier point and a handful of short lines that make up the entire post), one leading to/serving as the summary of the post, talking about it and said it (though even the document says allegedly as far as sharing of photo) could be a contributing/motivating factor?
While I did state it as far as I am concerned then for your edification. If indeed a photo of such a nature (presumably one intended to be private or taken illicitly) was passed around by the employees, and such a thing was known to/reported to, endorsed by and/or later not subject to appropriate investigation/appropriate discipline by the management or maybe HR then that is a very bad look, even more so if the timelines have it such that reporting/disciplinary action happened prior to the suicide, and potentially cause for some kind of sanction in this case.
If this is further compounded by the same employee being some flavour of coerced by a direct supervisor into a relationship, and again known/sanctioned/ill investigated or punished with same note about timelines, then that is further damning still, however that does not seem to be the claim made if the wording there is anything to go by.

Dude chill, the courts won't force Blizzard to delete your waifus from Overwatch.
 

RedBlueGreen

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I'm always skeptical of things like this because there are so many factors involved. Same job title and same working hours doesn't necessarily mean the exact same work, especially in an industry where people are shifted around like crazy for different roles in development. There's seniority and/or performance/skill based raises to consider, as well as the actual time they're working, etc. There's a lot that goes into determining a salary or somebody's wages, and given that this is a state where virtually everything has to have a label that says it contains a probable carcinogen I'm not exactly inclined to believe their labour board's allegations. Since this is most likely a civil issue I wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard is found to be at fault regardless of how much actual evidence there is.

And I don't think opinionated testimony holds up without something to actually back it up
"An internal investigation into the human resource unit noted there was a "big lack of trust" and that "HR not held in high regard". How amusing. Though as a general rule HR are never your friends; they are there to figure out who to fire with minimal cost to the company and also to insulate the company as best they can from... arguably things like this. More generally "who pays them?" is a question you always want to ask as that way the incentives are found.
Agreed. HR exists for the company's benefit, not the employee's. The only reason they get involved in employee workplace affairs is so to resolve disputes before the company gets sued or fined. Some HR employees will even make things like compensation and leave as hard of a process as they can because it's in the company's best (financial) interest. Corporate doesn't care about the employees, if they did people wouldn't be making minimum wage while executives are making high five to six figures, especially considering there's not much risk for said executives contrary to popular belief, and people wouldn't be fired just because the boss doesn't like them.
I was confused by the word relationship as well, I asked over on Reddit and people seem to agree it's just a wording issue. It definitely was manipulative/non-consensual.
I'm not sure I'd consider Reddit's opinion credible about something like this. Social media is plagued with people who like to paint things and people they disagree with as a villain. What matters is actual evidence. This is also why you always want to get an agreement or promise in writing, because short or recording an oral agreement on video there's little that can be done to prove it happened.
 

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I'm not sure I'd consider Reddit's opinion credible about something like this. Social media is plagued with people who like to paint things and people they disagree with as a villain. What matters is actual evidence. This is also why you always want to get an agreement or promise in writing, because short or recording an oral agreement on video there's little that can be done to prove it happened.

Yes of course, I posted a bit above here to take that as a grain of salt. We'll have to see how this plays out.
 

D34DL1N3R

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A) This is an American company.

Someone just had to go there, didn't they? Do I need to comprise a list of non American companies for you that have shady business practices, owners, employees? To label this as an "American" thing is an extremely naive and unfair comment.
 

kevin corms

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Did they by any chance look into how many men vs women apply? Or did they do any kind of research into what is happening at all? Maybe they should sue hospitals for not having enough male nurses while they are at it.

--------------------- MERGED ---------------------------

Umm yeah this is worse than I thought.

View attachment 270769
That sounds like a fake tweet written by a child. So much of this online.
 
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FAST6191

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Someone just had to go there, didn't they? Do I need to comprise a list of non American companies for you that have shady business practices, owners, employees? To label this as an "American" thing is an extremely naive and unfair comment.
You can if you want. Not sure what it will achieve in this though; American companies (and universities) are the ones that are seen to generally subject their staff to pointless seminars, training and whatever else as it concerns various isms and ists that are mostly imaginary or minor in the modern world. With the possible exception of Canada (and even then it is more likely to be select provinces/territories) nowhere else in the world really bothers, save that they are an American company being the owners and thinking what goes there for manglement style exports well to elsewhere (see the many many failures there for such companies trying their US approach elsewhere). That was what the point was for and about.
The rest of the world still manages some pointless training for the consultancy slimes to grow fat on, however that usually tends to be more about food handling, health and safety, RSI, boring updates to regulations that might trouble a handful in the company (that probably already know them because professional obligations and all that), IT security, general site security and whatever else.
Unions letting their members know what services they offer and what to call them in on tending to be the only times most get a lecture on such things.

That sounds like a fake tweet written by a child. So much of this online.
Don't care much about the tweet itself but the picture that forms its basis is part of the legal filing you can read in the link from the OP (page 15 down the bottom).
 
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kevin corms

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Why are you focusing on the tweet? It's the image of the document, and that isn't fake. Just go through the report and it's there.
It still reads like foolishness written by a child. Police found a butt plug and lube eh? Im sorry, with so many people crying wolf these days anything this suspicious is hard for me to believe. I'm also supposed to believe California is some sort of ultra liberal utopia while we have all these accusations. They couldn't even spell Bill Cosby correctly. Did blizzard piss off the CCP again?

Where I come from, this accused behavior would get your head stomped in. Liberals and conservatives would come together and just beat the hell out of those dudes.
 
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D34DL1N3R

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You can if you want. Not sure what it will achieve in this though; American companies (and universities) are the ones that are seen to generally subject their staff to pointless seminars, training and whatever else as it concerns various isms and ists that are mostly imaginary or minor in the modern world. With the possible exception of Canada (and even then it is more likely to be select provinces/territories) nowhere else in the world really bothers, save that they are an American company being the owners and thinking what goes there for manglement style exports well to elsewhere (see the many many failures there for such companies trying their US approach elsewhere). That was what the point was for and about.
The rest of the world still manages some pointless training for the consultancy slimes to grow fat on, however that usually tends to be more about food handling, health and safety, RSI, boring updates to regulations that might trouble a handful in the company (that probably already know them because professional obligations and all that), IT security, general site security and whatever else.
Unions letting their members know what services they offer and what to call them in on tending to be the only times most get a lecture on such things.

It was a hypothetical question. I really do not need to make that list, but my point still stands and you side-stepped completely around it. Stop with the entire "American" thing. It's extremely hypocritical and pure nonsense.You're basically placing labels on every, single, person of an entire country. Perhaps it's a British thing, to feel like their entire population is superior to all others? See how that works and how stupid and ignorant that sounds?
 
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FAST6191

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It was a hypothetical question. I really do not need to make that list, but my point still stands and you side-stepped completely around it. Stop with the entire "American" thing. It's extremely hypocritical and pure nonsense.You're basically placing labels on every, single, person of an entire country. Perhaps it's a British thing, to feel like their entire population is superior to all others? See how that works?
Someone said something to the effect of "that harassment training had to be attended says it all".
I said that is just an American way of doing business. Which I maintain it is. Nowhere else in the world I have ever dealt with bothers to do it to the levels I see or me or mine deal with from American companies. A cultural quirk much like tipping really and accordingly if reading by non American standards where someone being sent to such training, much less a whole department/company (Activision is a tech company so employee count is rather low compared to factories or something and smaller than some departments in such places), means something rather heinous went down would be wrong.
You came along and appeared to miss the point entirely from where I sit, I tried to correct that but apparently failed to do that. This would be attempt 2 at that.
 
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