Activision Blizzard Sued By State Of California Over Harassment Claims

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor July 22, 2021
Share:

Activision Blizzard is the target of a lawsuit from the state of California that accuses it of promoting a "frat boy culture" and permitting numerous instances of sexual harassment and other gender-based discrimination, primarily at its Blizzard offices in California. The suit, which can be read in full here, is the result of a two-year investigation by the state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing. It alleges that women at Blizzard received lower pay than their male counterparts in similar roles, were passed over for promotion, and were subjected to different standards regarding their work behavior and activities.

Among the accusations presented in the suit include the "cube crawl," wherein male employees would "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." In one unfortunate case, a female employee committed suicide while on a business trip with a male supervisor; a photo of her genitals had reportedly been passed around at a holiday party prior to the trip.

One woman was passed over for promotion because her male supervisor said he "could not risk promoting her as she might get pregnant and like being a mom too much." Women of color are also alleged to have been discriminated against at the company. One African-American woman is said to have been micromanaged to the point that she had to write a one-page summary detailing what she would do with a day off. Another's supervisor checked up on her if she took a break to take a walk.

The result of all these actions were "significant" gender pay gaps and a tendency for women to leave the company. Complaints to human resources "fell on deaf ears or were met with an empty promise to investigate the issue," the suit alleges.

Only one (former) Blizzard employee is named specifically for his actions. The former senior creative director of World of Warcraft, Alex Afrasiabi, is alleged to have been "permitted to engage in blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussions," due to his seniority. Blizzard President J. Allen Brack "allegedly had multiple conversations with Afrasiabi" about his behavior but ultimately gave him just a "slap on the wrist (i.e., verbal counseling) in response to these incidents." Afrasiabi left the company last year.

A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard responded to the suit with a lengthy statement, saying that the suit includes "distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past." It claims that the DFEH "rushed to file an inaccurate complaint, as we will demonstrate in court" and that the suit's mention of the employee who committed suicide is an "disgraceful and unprofessional" and "an example of how they have conducted themselves throughout the course of their investigation."

Blizzard's statement said that the suit is "not the Blizzard workplace of today" and that "we've made significant changes to address company culture and reflect more diversity within our leadership teams." If some or all the allegations about past behavior are true, that's still a black mark on the company, and the demands of the employees who were wronged by the actions of Blizzard employees have merit, even if Blizzard has mended its ways since.

Share:
Got a news tip? Contact us directly here!


About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (1)

Cloak 2 months ago
Hopefully they will rip each others throats out. Less woke junk to deal with.


You May Enjoy

There's A New Sheriff In Town As Blizzard Announces New Game Director For Diablo IV

There's A New Sheriff In Town As Blizzard Announces New Game Director For Diablo IV

Longtime Blizzard staffer Joe Shely steps up from position as “overall caretaker” of combat design.

By QuintLyn Bowers - 1 week ago
Swords of Legends Online Kicks Off New Battle Pass Season And More Hard Raids

Swords of Legends Online Kicks Off New Battle Pass Season And More Hard Raids

Season 3 includes all new costume sets, animations, and more.

By QuintLyn Bowers - 3 days ago
Save The Most Adorable World In HIG’s New Sandbox MMO Dragon & Home

Save The Most Adorable World In HIG’s New Sandbox MMO Dragon & Home

Explore, build your own home, protect the Tree of Life, and do it all with the aid of a witch.

By QuintLyn Bowers - 2 days ago
Latest Smite God Reveal Trailer Offers A Peek At Cliodhna In Action

Latest Smite God Reveal Trailer Offers A Peek At Cliodhna In Action

This lady is scary.

By QuintLyn Bowers - 2 days ago
Go Visit Daughter Because Nights of Naberus Returns To Warframe

Go Visit Daughter Because Nights of Naberus Returns To Warframe

It’s time to celebrate the Orokin festival of mirth and mischief.

By QuintLyn Bowers - 1 week ago
After Adding A Social Deduction Mode To Fortnite, Epic Games And Among Us Could Be Partnering Up

After Adding A Social Deduction Mode To Fortnite, Epic Games And Among Us Could Be Partnering Up

It didn't start out as all roses, but maybe this fence mending will lead to something cool?

By Michael Byrne - 5 days ago
See More
Live Giveaways