The California Office of Fair Working Conditions (DFEH) is suing Activision Blizzard, the publishing giant behind some of the most famous and largest video game brands. The reason is the “Spratkov” corporate culture, which has led to long-term harassment and abuse of women in the workplace, as well as to inadequate salaries compared to men. The lawsuit is the result of a two-year investigation during which no measures were taken to prevent discrimination and harassment.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the Los Angeles High Court, alleging that the harassment may have involved up to one-fifth of employees, who are women. According to the lawsuit, they are constantly exposed to inappropriate behavior from their male counterparts, are the target of sexist jokes and have to endure so-called cube crawls, a specific form of corporate parties in which men drink alcohol, go through work booths and make fun of their colleagues. According to the lawsuit, men play video games at work and transfer their responsibility to women, which is inadmissible according to DFEH’s findings. Women also do not have equal working conditions, cannot grow their careers due to family planning, are not tolerated early retirement due to the need to pick up a child from kindergarten or school, and are to be reported from the breastfeeding room so that other employees can make an appointment there.
The lawsuit is, of course, supported by a number of direct testimonies from individual employees, and the suicide of one of Activision’s employees, who took her own life during a company trip with her superior, is also mentioned. According to the lawsuit, he was to expose her to constant sexual harassment, including sending her nude photos all over the company. The Office therefore considers it necessary for the court to issue an order to comply with all workplace protection and to force Activision to settle wages and pay all eligible bonuses to the employees concerned. DEFH also underscores the seriousness of the whole incident in the evidence of ignoring complaints received by management during the investigation but not further addressed by the employees.
We worked with DEFH throughout the investigation, including providing extensive documentation, but refused to tell us what problems they encountered, says Activision.
Activision responds to the action with a long statement declaring DEFH’s action irresponsible. “We respect diversity and strive to promote a work environment that is inclusive of all. There is no room for sexual offenses or harassment of any kind in our society, in our industry, or in any other, ”says Activision. It also confirms that it deals with all allegations and takes measures that lead to the resolution of problems. However, it opposes what the Office mentions in the application and claims that it describes distorted and in many cases untrue cases. “Throughout the investigation, we worked with DEFH, including providing extensive documentation, but refused to tell us what problems they encountered,” added Activision.
The publisher sees the biggest problem in the DEFH procedure – according to the law, the state office was to conduct an appropriate investigation and conduct negotiations in good faith. “It simply came to our notice then. Instead, they were in a hurry to file an inaccurate lawsuit, which we will prove in court, “says the publisher. According to Activision, Activision is also disgusted with the criminal conduct of the Office, which involved the tragic suicide of an employee in the lawsuit, whose death, however, has nothing to do with this case, according to Activision. “Although we consider this behavior to be unprofessional and reprehensible, it is an accurate picture of how the whole investigation went,” the publisher adds. In conclusion, he lists that the current image of Activison-Blizzard is completely different – the company was to make significant changes in corporate culture, update the code of conduct in the workplace and establish fair and rewarding salary packages and principles of further remuneration.