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