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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RedBlueGreen

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Lol "The State" and what will workers get out of this.
Nothing because I doubt this kind of stuff will hold up in court and the employees involved if that information is known likely be fired later on for an "unrelated" reason. There have been allegations of stuff like this for years, and it's always "we both have the same job so we deserve the same money" without actual in depth analysis. Nothing usually happens with this "discrimination" because the claims either aren't accurate or can't be proven.
 
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RedBlueGreen

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There are a lot of men in this thread that make me wonder why I am still a member of this site.
If you have proof this is purely gender based discrimination please share it. They deserve equal pay if they're doing the exact same work and have the same experience and skills. That means same performance, same hours, same shift, same seniority, etc.
 
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The Catboy

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If you have proof this is purely gender based discrimination please share it.
I don't know what evidence is part of this case nor am I involved with this case, so for obvious reasons I don't have evidence. Considering the fact that many gaming development studios have had accusations of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and countless other accusations, I am inclined to believe the victims.
 

RedBlueGreen

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accusations of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and countless other accusations, I am inclined to believe the victims.
If there is gender based discrimination that will be proven in court. Automatically siding with any party about a scenario you have no experience with other than hearing about other allegations is absolutely asinine though. An allegation is just that until it is proven, and when it comes to harassment that's a very vague area because a lot of stuff could be interpreted as harassment. I could even say this earlier post by you is discriminatory because you specified men and I interpreted it as being demeaning, and as a male user of the site I might consider myself harassed:
There are a lot of men in this thread that make me wonder why I am still a member of this site.
I have zero reason to believe any unproven allegation unless the alleged victim is credible.
 
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The Catboy

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If there is gender based discrimination that will be proven in court. Automatically siding with any party about something you have no experience with other than hearing about other allegations is absolutely asinine though. An allegation is just that, and when it comes to harassment that's a very vague area because a lot of stuff could be interpreted as harassment. I could even say this earlier post by you is discriminatory because you specified men and I interpreted it as being demeaning:

I have zero reason to believe any unproven allegation unless the alleged victim is credible.
"There are a lot of men in this thread that make me wonder why I am still a member of this site." This was directed at many of the men of this site and their comments on this case.
As for this case, I believe the victims and I have my doubts that their claims are false. There are far fewer false accusations compared to what people believe. The fact that legitimate accusations are dismissed or treated less seriously based on the assumption that they might be false is the reason why cases like this end up happening. In most cases, these kinds of lawsuits were the results of people already trying to go through the proper channels, such as reporting instances to supervisors/HR, but the instances being mishandled/not being properly reported to authorities when necessary. These cases aren't based on a few bad days that happened, they are the result of negligence, mishandling, and abuse, so yes I am very much inclined to side with the victims.
 

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There are a lot of men in this thread that make me wonder why I am still a member of this site.
Don't be so hard on them.

Even law students (if ever a self selected group of people that should do/know better) fail hard at establishing facts of a case
1:30, skip to 17:40 afterwards, though I do consider the whole video mandatory watching for basically everybody as it could save your arse one day (though the short version is as the title says and don't speak to police, the US' fifth amendment is very good stuff and no lawyer will disagree with the general premise there).

Blackstone's formulation (better 100 guilty go free than a single innocent get punished) and notions of innocence unless guilt is proven (don't know if this is to criminal standards or civil here, state is usually to criminal which is to say beyond all reasonable doubt rather than 51% of the average civil setup) similarly get tangled up in emotions.

Running away solves little, explaining why they are wrong and may see someone unjustly punished may or may not help them but there are always others reading too.

Lol "The State" and what will workers get out of this.
Haven't read what relief is sought, where fines might go or what restitution might be ordered. However as far as state vs not then probably want to look up the term king's peace (sometimes with the Latin phrase rex pax). A rather ancient term of law that morphed a bit over the millennia, though generally what is responsible for the state getting most of the fines and whatnot.
 

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Curious what will come out of this. Some of the content in the legal document is more extreme than I expected. Unless individuals are held accountable, a multi billion dollar corporate entity paying out a few million in damages won’t change anything.

I’m not going really interested in the “he said/she said” debate here. We know this kind of stuff is happening in the industry. Ubisoft has a similar work culture. It’s systemic within major entities at this point. Change is needed.
 
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From what I've read? This lawsuit is the result of a case a couple of years in the making. I have zero doubts that there is some proof of the accusations (or allegations if you REALLY want to go that route) being made and even disclosed in the suit. Yes, I do believe that false accusations are a thing. I do believe that there are people in this world who will cut you down using some of the scummiest tactics ever witnessed.

I do also believe that toxic workplaces are far more prominent than some of you play it off. This isn't an overnight thing, either. Apparently, the state of California has given Activision a shot to rectify this behavior. To which, nothing has been done. Obviously, use your own judgment in this matter... But don't act like this stuff isn't commonplace. You're only lying to yourself.
 

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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.

The fact it is a large company is moot in regards to why the state has an interest here, the fact it is a large corporation means you would have your choice of attorneys doing cartwheels to take your case up front fee free if there was actionable evidence.
 

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I don't know what evidence is part of this case nor am I involved with this case, so for obvious reasons I don't have evidence. Considering the fact that many gaming development studios have had accusations of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and countless other accusations, I am inclined to believe the victims.
I believe everyone will get' meteorited' into nothingness soon.
Let some entity do justice for the universe. We don't belong on it.
 

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That legal document is quite amusing, and seems the spectre of gamergate looms larger than I thought for some if it is referenced in the first page. Would be amusing if Activision Blizzard respond with the FBI document in some capacity. IGN being cited (their history of it - https://www.ign.com/articles/2010/10/01/the-history-of-activision ) also amuses but I suppose trade rags get cited for things all the time, just not used to seeing it.

Curious to see the full legal rebuttal as many of the cited incidents are not especially qualified, and I would have thought terminating women more commonly would have been flanked by without cause or other sufficient justification given phrases like "substantially similar work" in the line prior. Lack of claims of constructive dismissal (it is a phrase mentioned in the relevant aspects of law part) is quite odd for something like this too, though I don't know how hard they are to make in California so who knows.

The substantially similar work thing has me curious. Would want to know more there and a breakdown of things involved.

Cube crawl sounds lame, but bar crawls are as well; wasting valuable drinking time with all that walking. That said in and of itself (there are things in later lines which if true are grounds for something) I don't see the issue beyond it speaking to a poor work-life balance, however that seems to be most of tech and even more so in games where people generally seem to take a pittance because games is cool and there are a line of people out the door to replace them, some even with experience.
A lot the document is also heavy inference and association phrasing and precious little in any kind of mens rea (legal principle of guilty mind); if you are doing the means, motive, opportunity, establishing fact patterns and all the other things day 2 law students are supposed to be looking for then sorely lacking. Might make for a nice emotive argument but little of substance. Or if you prefer the old adage of "When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on you side, pound the table." is worth keeping in mind. What would be called puffery in sales and some selective use of statistics is also abundant in this (the percentage of games market as women vs percentage of activision blizzard's market as women would be a fairly interesting example), the CEO and president comment also somewhat selective (assuming it even matters).

"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.

"the manager commented that they could not risk promoting her as she might get pregnant and like being a mom too much"
Now I know that is what people think (basic business logic there really) but I would have thought even the knuckle draggers of manglement since about current space year minus 40 or so would know not to voice that to the subject of that... small mercy for Activision Blizzard it was not in a company email I guess and get to play who said what if in court.

Some I am curious to see if they are general lame business practices (dangling the carrot of promotion and whatnot to get a good employee on the cheap and running them into the ground, see also 90%+ of retail work) or actual discrimination. Similar thing for offered pay (employer wants to give them as little as possible, employee wants the most they can get aka basic wage negotiation. It is also noted a lot of women won't negotiate as hard and have different risk analysis and approaches to conflict), though if they are bound by law to make it equal in outcome regardless (debatable as a concept if you ask me) then I guess there is that.
Said same seemingly assigned to lesser roles is an interesting one. Does potentially trouble substantially similar work claims (whatever phone game is on tick over vs latest COD) but I have no particular thing to go either way there.
Lack of promotions despite alleged better performance would also be something to get some further details on.

"male employees proudly came into work hungover. Similarly, male employees would play video games during work, engage in banter about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies, and make numerous jokes about rape."
And? Sounds like a boring place to work but not particularly seeing cause for action in this case. Painting a scene is a thing you can do I guess. Now a few lines after there would be some potential incidents for harassment claims or some flavour of hostile work environment, especially if compounded by HR of dubious quality to some ideal standard (again they are not your friend and never were or will be, give or take some hypothetical where they are employee funded).

"who were not "huge games" or "core gamers" and that were into the party scene were treated as outsiders"
Again boring place to work but I do find workplaces do have a culture, and one wonders if this is simple mismatch on that front. I have done some stuff for car garages before... surprisingly they are often places where people like their cars and other motorised fun. I think we can all agree quite unexpected that such a thing as quoted would exist for a gaming company.

"Crosby". One of a few typos but would speak to some lack of attention to detail there.

The earlier thing about a suicide on a business trip is expanded upon a tiny bit later (section 48, or line 17 of page 15). However two at this point separate incidents appear to be connected as part of it, which might be relevant but at this point is not the basis for much.


Anyway if even a fraction of this is true there is a good reason I don't work in games, much less for activision blizzard. As a case though... could be far stronger, though I also rarely find such things get filed if the prosecution does not think they can win.
Jesus christ this is one of the worst comments that I have ever seen in this website.
With that being said, being a woman and having not even a lot of experience in office environments you can already tell the gender difference, most of the times due to pure bias. People tend to think certain practices are justifiable, specially when it comes to optimizing profit (by making a proper management, for instance) but this is simply not true and you will see people defying logic again and again for the most stupid reasons.
 
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