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Activision Blizzard has been sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Building for gender discrimination in the workplace.

The company, which makes games including World Warfarecraft, Diablo and Call of Duty, has been accused of having a ‘freight boy’ culture in which female employees are harassed, paid unequally, retaliated against and fail to stop harassment. .

This is in stark contrast to how the company described itself in its most recent report on environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments. In the report, Activision Blizzard said that since 2016, the number of women in leadership roles in sports development has doubled. And the promotion rate is the same for minorities and non-minorities, and the promotion rate for women is slightly higher than the rate for men. In a statement (included below) the company said today that the allegations do not represent today’s company, and that it has taken steps to address past misconduct.

The lawsuit comes after a two-year investigation by a state agency. The company said it discriminated against female employees in terms of employment such as compensation, assignment, promotion and termination. The agency said the company had consistently failed to take steps to prevent leadership, discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

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In a way, such allegations are familiar, as Wright Games, the creator of Lito Le F Legends and a neighbor of Activation Blizzard in Los Angeles, also faced sexual harassment charges against women and had to pay a $ 10 million settlement in 2019. Ubisoft, the publisher of the French video game, also faced #MeToo allegations of sexual harassment last year.

Call of Duty: War Zone.

Above: Call of Duty: Warzone is one of the big games of Activation Blizzard.

Image Credits: Activation Blizzard

The complaint was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Women make up 20% of the activation workforce and are made the subject of “broad boy workplace culture”. This culture is claimed to have encouraged and tolerated sexual prohibition, jokes about rape, unwanted proposals, and other behaviors.

The lawsuit alleges that a female Activ employee died during a company trip with a male supervisor. The complaint states that the employee was allegedly sexually harassed before his death, in which nude photos were passed at the company’s holiday party.

The agency sought a restraining order forcing it to comply with workplace protections. He also asked the company to pay unpaid wages, pay adjustments, provide back pay and pay the lost wages and benefits for female employees.

As of December 31, 2020, Activision Blizzard had 9,630 employees, up from 9,234 a year earlier. Women make up 24% of the overall workforce, while minorities make up 34% of the overall base. The company said in its report that it is trying to improve that ratio, but it is no different from the overall sports industry. The company has a nine-employee network dedicated to becoming a more inclusive company.

Here is the company’s response:

We value diversity and strive to promote a workplace that includes everyone. There is no place in our company or industry or any industry for sexual misconduct or any kind of harassment. We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. Action was taken to address this issue in cases involving misconduct.

DFEH contains descriptions of Blizzard’s past, distorted and in many cases false. We have been very cooperative with DFEH throughout their investigation, providing them with detailed data and adequate documentation, but refusing to tell us what issues they have considered. The law required them to adequately investigate and resolve any claims or concerns with us in good faith before proceeding with the lawsuit, but they failed to do so. Instead, they rushed to file a court complaint, as we would demonstrate in court. The tragic suicide of this employee following the complaint of DFEH makes him sad that nothing goes through this case and there is no respect for his bereaved family. While we find this behavior offensive and unprofessional, it is unfortunately an example of how they managed themselves during their investigation. There is this kind of irresponsible behavior from state bureaucrats who are running many of the best businesses in the state from California.

The picture of DFEH Paints is not today’s blizzard workplace. Over the past several years and since the initial investigation began, we have made significant changes to address the culture of the company and reflect more diversity in our leadership teams. We’ve updated the Code of Conduct to emphasize strict non-retaliatory attention, expanded internal programs and channels for reporting violations to employees, including the “ASK List” with a secret integrity hotline, and introduced a dedicated employee relations team to investigate employees. . Anxiety. We have strengthened our commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion and have joined our employee network globally to provide additional support. Employees must also receive regular anti-harassment training and have done so for many years.

We make every effort to create reasonable and rewarding compensation packages and policies that reflect our culture and business, and we strive to pay all employees fairly for equal or significant equal work. We have taken various proactive measures to ensure that salaries are taken by non-discriminatory factors. For example, we reward and compensate employees based on their performance, and we provide comprehensive anti-discrimination training, including those that are part of the compensation process.

We are confident in our ability to demonstrate our practices as an equal opportunity employer that promotes a supportive, diverse and inclusive workplace for our people, and we are committed to continuing these efforts in the years to come. It’s a shame they didn’t want to join us on what DFEH is seeing in their investigation.

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