Last July, Activision Blizzard was hit with a damning lawsuit over accusations of sexual harassment and a ‘frat boy’ work culture. The lawsuit, which was filed by the Californian Department of Fair Employment and Housing, was the result of a two-year investigation and was followed up by an investigation by other government bodies and separate lawsuits by its employees and investors.
Now, another new lawsuit has been filed, this time on behalf of a single employee at the company. This one, according to Bloomberg Law, only refers to the employee as Jane Doe, for the sake of anonymity, and details her alleged experiences at the company since she joined Blizzard’s IT department in 2017.
The suit describes the company as an ‘alcohol-soaked culture of sexual harassment.’ On her first day, Doe says she was told she needed to share an embarrassing secret about herself as part of an ‘initiation’ and was pressured into drinking alcohol on a regular basis.
She claims she and other female employees were also made to participate in ‘cube crawls,’ where they were subjected to sexual comments and even groping. Similar claims were also made in the State of California lawsuit.
Doe began to dress more conservatively and distance herself from offsite leadership dinners to avoid further harassment. When she complained to her supervisors, they reportedly told her that leadership was ‘being nice and trying to be friends with her.’
However, her supervisors told her to keep her complaints to herself, acknowledging that they could be ‘damaging’ to the company. It’s claimed that these complaints led to Doe facing a more hostile work environment.
Doe says she tried and failed to find a new position outside of her department, only managing to do so when she sent a written complaint to Blizzard’s president J. Allen Brack. Brack has since left the company, mere days after the original California lawsuit was filed.
While Doe was offered, and accepted, a new role in a different department, it apparently came with a lower status within the company and a decrease in salary. She adds that, last November, she applied for an open executive assistant position but was rejected. This happened to occur after she spoke at a December press conference about her harassment.
Among the suit’s demands are for Activision Blizzard to implement a rotating human resources department and for CEO Bobby Kotick to be fired. That second point is something many employees and members of the public have called for for months now, following a report that says he was aware of many harassment incidents and purposefully covered them up.
Activision Blizzard will no doubt seek to settle the matter out of court, since it’s in the process of being bought out by Microsoft. Otherwise, this lawsuit will become Microsoft’s problem.
It’s speculated that Kotick will leave after the acquisition is complete, although not without a handsome bonus payout.
Over the last year, Activision Blizzard’s reputation has been thoroughly torpedoed by the ongoing allegations of its workplace conditions, the associated fall in stock price value making it easier for it to be acquired by Microsoft.
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