Federal equality commission is SUING World of Warcraft developer Activision Blizzard over claims female staffers’ complaints of sexual harassment in ‘frat house’ atmosphere of gaming giant’s offices were ignored
- Activision Blizzard is facing legal action from another federal agency related to the game maker’s alleged mistreatment of female workers
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit in California federal court alleging the company violated the civil rights of employees
- It’s alleged women were subjected to sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and retaliation at the firm’s Santa Monica offices
- Although some employees lodged complaints about the harassment, the company failed to take measures to end it, it is claimed
- Activision Blizzard will now create an $18 million fund to ‘compensate and make amends to eligible claimants’
- Lawsuit is the latest in a series of complaints against the company, one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, with more $2.2 billion in profit last year
- California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against company in July accusing the company of having a ‘frat boy’ work environment
- A number of employees have spoken out in support of the claims, with more than 2,000 signing an open letter calling for the company to take action
Activision Blizzard, one of the world’s most high-profile video game companies, has been sued by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) following a three-year investigation into claims it ignored sexual harassment allegations.
The investigation looked into workplace complaints of allegedly pervasive sexual harassment and discrimination at its offices in Santa Monica, California.
The file also alleges that female employees were paid less than their male-counterparts.
The EEOC is now said to be working with multiple regulators ‘on addressing and resolving workplace complaints it has received’.
Activision Blizzard is facing legal action from another federal agency related to the game maker’s alleged mistreatment of female workers
It has sought a court order that requires the company to cease unlawful behavior and pay restitution to employees who suffered discrimination or retaliation.
Activision Blizzard says that it is committed to making the company ‘one of the best, most inclusive places to work’ and has hired a new ‘Chief People Officer’ from Disney.
The company is also said to be working to address complaints of workplace discrimination.
Under the agreement with the EEOC, Activision Blizzard has committed to create an $18 million fund to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, above, said: ‘There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind, and I am grateful to the employees who bravely shared their experiences. I am sorry that anyone had to experience inappropriate conduct’
Any amounts not used for claimants will be divided between charities that advance women in the video game industry or promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues as well as company diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, as approved by the EEOC.
Commenting on the agreement, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said: ‘There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind, and I am grateful to the employees who bravely shared their experiences. I am sorry that anyone had to experience inappropriate conduct, and I remain unwavering in my commitment to make Activision Blizzard one of the world’s most inclusive, respected, and respectful workplaces.’
Kotick added: ‘We will continue to be vigilant in our commitment to the elimination of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. We thank the EEOC for its constructive engagement as we work to fulfill our commitments to eradicate inappropriate conduct in the workplace.’
Activision Blizzard is the company behind popular games Call of Duty and Candy Crush
Monday’s lawsuit comes just a couple months after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleged Activision Blizzard allegedly allowed a ‘frat boy’ work place culture.’
The lawsuit from July also claims ‘executives sexually harassed women and male employees openly joked about rape and drank alcohol while engaging in ‘inappropriate behavior’ toward women, it was further alleged.
The company’s shares have dropped 20% in two months as legal woes built over an alleged culture of discrimination against women and minorities at the maker of Candy Crush, Call of Duty, Overwatch and World of Warcraft.
The stock dropped 0.5% to $75.08 in Monday afternoon trading.
In late July, California’s civil rights agency sued the company, alleging gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
Employees of the video game company Activision Blizzard held a walkout in July
Employees staged a walkout to protest what they said was Activision’s culture of sexism and discrimination.
A shareholder lawsuit in August said the company failed to disclose to investors that it was being investigated in California and that it had workplace culture issues that could result in legal problems.
The shareholder suit noted unhappiness within the company, saying more than 2,000 current and former Activision employees signed a petition criticizing the company’s response to the California suit as ‘insulting’ and saying they did not trust leadership to ‘place employee safety above their own interests.’
A number of employees have spoken out in support of the claims, with more than 2,000 signing an open letter calling for the company to take action. Picture, protestors at a July walkout