Against Activision Blizzard sued California Department of Employment and Housing Rights (DFEH) over sexual harassment and discrimination at the company. Its management said the precedents were longstanding and taken out of context. More than 2, 600 Activision Blizzard employees signed an open letter condemning the company’s official response. Employees of the publisher will hold a protest action on July 28.
DFEH sued Activision Blizzard after two years of investigation and accused the publisher of a corporate culture of "college fraternity." In its filing, the department said female employees were paid less than men, had fewer opportunities to be promoted, and male co-workers outsourced their jobs to them. Women have also been sexually harassed, the department stresses.
In a response to the allegations, Activision Blizzard executives expressed doubt about the veracity of DFEH’s findings. The acts of discrimination and harassment described are no longer true, Activision Blizzard Director of Corporate Communications Calvin Liu explained. He said the company’s culture had changed even before the DFEH investigation began. The publisher’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, Frances Townsend, called the allegations baseless, noting that the lawsuit describes incidents taken out of context, occurring more than a decade ago.
Blizzard Entertainment head Jay Allen Brack has spoken out about his dismay over the DFEH lawsuit. The department’s investigation says he knew about the discrimination and harassment complaints, but did nothing about it.
Former and current company employees and female employees Reacted negatively to to the company’s response. More than 2, 600 employees of the publisher signed an open letter to management. World of Warcraft lead game designer Jeremy Fisel publicly criticized the publisher’s official stance on the DFEH lawsuit. The game’s senior systems designer Jeff Hamilton called Activision Blizzard’s response disgusting and unacceptable. He said that because of the scandal, work on WoW has actually stopped.
Hundreds of World of Warcraft players arranged in-game protests against the company’s policies, and some have unsubscribed.
Talk about the publisher’s games will stop several video bloggers and online publications.
Former Blizzard CEO Mike Moreham apologized and acknowledged that management has a responsibility to make sure that all employees feel safe and supported regardless of gender or background.
Activision Blizzard stated that. Will not penalize its employees for participating in protests because of the publisher’s response to the DFEH investigation. The company notified the employees by email.
In late 2018, Google employees held a protest demanding better protection of women’s rights in the company. They were seeking the abolition of the forced conflict resolution procedure, which prevents victims of harassment from going to court. Google’s management assured that it checks every complaint of harassment and inappropriate behavior, applying appropriate measures.
In 2020, Women Who Tech, an international nonprofit organization, released the results of study which revealed that 40% of women in the IT industry are sexually harassed by their manager or investor. Allison Kapin, founder of the organization, notes that women continue to stay silent because they don’t believe in helping their employer.