Activision Blizzard Sued Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture, Harassment

Emjay

Honorary Master
Joined
Jun 18, 2005
Messages
11,983

Video game giant Activision Blizzard Inc., maker of games including World of Warcraft and Diablo, fosters a “frat boy” culture in which female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation, according to a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

A two-year investigation by the state agency found that the company discriminated against female employees in terms and conditions of employment, including compensation, assignment, promotion, and termination. Company leadership consistently failed to take steps to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, the agency said.

According to the complaint, filed Tuesday in the Los Angeles Superior Court, female employees make up around 20% of the Activision workforce, and are subjected to a “pervasive frat boy workplace culture,” including “cube crawls,” in which male employees “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.”

The agency alleges male employees play video games during the workday while delegating responsibilities to female employees, engage in sexual banter, and joke openly about rape, among other things.

Female employees allege being held back from promotions because of the possibility they might become pregnant, being criticized for leaving to pick their children up from daycare, and being kicked out of lactation rooms so male colleagues could use the room for meetings, the complaint says.

Female employees working for the World of Warcraft team noted that male employees and supervisors would hit on them, make derogatory comments about rape, and otherwise engage in demeaning behavior, the agency alleges.

The suit also points to a female Activision employee who took her own life while on a company trip with her male supervisor. The employee had been subjected to intense sexual harassment prior to her death, including having nude photos passed around at a company holiday party, the complaint says.

The agency seeks an injunction forcing compliance with workplace protections, as well as unpaid wages, pay adjustments, back pay, and lost wages and benefits for female employees.

“We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind,” a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard said in a statement. “We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.”

“The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived,” the statement continued.

“The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today,” the company said.
 

Emjay

Honorary Master
Joined
Jun 18, 2005
Messages
11,983
Surprised this has not been posted yet. Spent a little time looking into this, and things look pretty bad for Activision Blizzard. It would explain why World of Warcraft has tanked so severely in quality and quantity over the last few years. Their entire culture is working against them.

Here is the Reddit thread with some more stories of terrible treatment of female workers.

https://www.reddit.com/r/wow/comments/op1t7m
Blizzard's response to this though was very, very bad however.

We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind. We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.

The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived. They were required by law to adequately investigate and to have good faith discussions with us to better understand and to resolve any claims or concerns before going to litigation, but they failed to do so. Instead, they rushed to file an inaccurate complaint, as we will demonstrate in court. We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to drag into the complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose passing has no bearing whatsoever on this case and with no regard for her grieving family. While we find this behavior to be disgraceful and unprofessional, it is unfortunately an example of how they have conducted themselves throughout the course of their investigation. It is this type of irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.

The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today. Over the past several years and continuing since the initial investigation started, we’ve made significant changes to address company culture and reflect more diversity within our leadership teams. We’ve amplified internal programs and channels for employees to report violations, including the “ASK List” with a confidential integrity hotline, and introduced an Employee Relations team dedicated to investigating employee concerns. We have strengthened our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and combined our Employee Networks at a global level, to provide additional support. Employees must also undergo regular anti-harassment training and have done so for many years.

We put tremendous effort in creating fair and rewarding compensation packages and policies that reflect our culture and business, and we strive to pay all employees fairly for equal or substantially similar work. We take a variety of proactive steps to ensure that pay is driven by non-discriminatory factors. For example, we reward and compensate employees based on their performance, and we conduct extensive anti-discrimination trainings including for those who are part of the compensation process.

We are confident in our ability to demonstrate our practices as an equal opportunity employer that fosters a supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace for our people, and we are committed to continuing this effort in the years to come. It is a shame that the DFEH did not want to engage with us on what they thought they were seeing in their investigation.
 

Johnatan56

Honorary Master
Joined
Aug 23, 2013
Messages
29,757
Video game giant Activision Blizzard Inc., maker of games including World of Warcraft and Diablo, fosters a “frat boy” culture in which female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation, according to a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The unequal pay bit made me laugh.

The reason for that is that the pay is atrocious, no matter if male/female:
Blizzard is utterly exploiting the fact that people want to work on those games, and they exploit the fanaticism of their fans who are devs.
 

Cray

Honorary Master
Joined
Oct 11, 2010
Messages
28,200
Blizzard definitely isn't the company it used to be, yet another blow for a company that hardly ever put a foot wrong in the old days.
 

Kryptonite

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
515
I honestly think that they are in MASSIVE trouble as a company and will move everything to Mobile...Starcraft is over, Warcraft RTS was raped and wont continue. Wow Retail is a complete disaster and TBC is already dying, content lag is too long, i dont even think that WOTLK Classic can save it.....if it gets there.
 

rambo919

Honorary Master
Joined
Jul 30, 2008
Messages
18,119
I skimmed and saw basic infantile "gamer" banter....

The suit also points to a female Activision employee who took her own life while on a company trip with her male supervisor. The employee had been subjected to intense sexual harassment prior to her death, including having nude photos passed around at a company holiday party, the complaint says.
......nvm they are simply pigs.
 

Gyre

Expert Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2011
Messages
3,446
I am actually curious how they address this culture without coming up with some kind of "sensitivity training" like they do with racial awareness training classes.

Didn't that google guy get kicked from google for complaining about his work place becoming too AA and too many women being hired just for being women?
 

rambo919

Honorary Master
Joined
Jul 30, 2008
Messages
18,119
I honestly think that they are in MASSIVE trouble as a company and will move everything to Mobile...Starcraft is over, Warcraft RTS was raped and wont continue. Wow Retail is a complete disaster and TBC is already dying, content lag is too long, i dont even think that WOTLK Classic can save it.....if it gets there.
 

Pegasus

Executive Member
Joined
May 17, 2004
Messages
8,434
There seems to be a culture of gender assumption there as well.

Also, some of the men could be pregnant, and that changes one's moods and feelings very quickly and unexpectedly.
 

Emjay

Honorary Master
Joined
Jun 18, 2005
Messages
11,983
The unequal pay bit made me laugh.

The reason for that is that the pay is atrocious, no matter if male/female:
Blizzard is utterly exploiting the fact that people want to work on those games, and they exploit the fanaticism of their fans who are devs.

Seesh. Been there when I was younger, so I know the feels. I was instructed by the partners at the firm I was working at hire to limo for a movie night which cost more than my entire month's salary. I was battling to pay for a text book for my studies at that point, even while living with my parents. I was crushed. I didn't stay long.

I don't think the Blizzard brand is going to have this pull for much longer after all this.

One veteran Blizzard employee told Bloomberg News they received a raise of less than 50 cents an hour. They are making less now than they did almost a decade ago because they are working fewer overtime hours than they did back then. Several former Blizzard employees said they only received significant pay increases after leaving for other companies, such as nearby rival Riot Games Inc. in Los Angeles.

In 2018 messages on internal Blizzard communication channels reviewed by Bloomberg News, employees talked about money-saving measures they’ve taken to remain with the company. One employee wrote that they had to skip meals to pay rent and that they used the company’s free coffee as an appetite suppressant. Another said they would only eat oatmeal and bail on team lunches because they couldn’t afford to buy food at the company cafeteria. A third said they and their partner stopped talking about having kids because they knew they wouldn’t be able to afford it. That contrasted with pictures they saw of more senior Blizzard employees enjoying vacations to Disneyland with their families.
 

Temujin

Honorary Master
Joined
Apr 18, 2015
Messages
13,304
Seesh. Been there when I was younger, so I know the feels. I was instructed by the partners at the firm I was working at hire to limo for a movie night which cost more than my entire month's salary. I was battling to pay for a text book for my studies at that point, even while living with my parents. I was crushed. I didn't stay long.

I don't think the Blizzard brand is going to have this pull for much longer after all this.
Yeah, maybe this could end their 'draw'.... As long as blizz has an infinite queue of 'creatives' from around the world banging at the door looking to have 'worked on d4/wow/sc etc' on their cv, blizz will continue paying peanuts. People will pay them to work there for those credentials. They know if you don't take the job they have another 10000 that will take it for even less so don't give two shits. People know the **** hours and low pay, yet still work there, sure they all bitch about it, but still work there. 'I can't pay rent or eat'... 'So quit'.... 'Nah, I'll stick it out, need that industry credit'
 

cguy

Executive Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2013
Messages
7,521
The unequal pay bit made me laugh.

The reason for that is that the pay is atrocious, no matter if male/female:
Blizzard is utterly exploiting the fact that people want to work on those games, and they exploit the fanaticism of their fans who are devs.
One thing that has always amazed me is that the developers in these companies could typically double or triple their income just by changing industries, but don’t, because they want to be on the credit list for Start Craft, World of Warcraft, Diablo, etc.

I mean, perhaps they could conceivably be proud of the enemy AI system, path finding, predictive networking or 3D rendering, etc., but the majority are responsible for exporting models to files, game installation, credit card processing, managing subscriptions and identity, leaderboards, opponent pairing, packaging, secure logins, multi-language support, sound/control/display menu options, cut scene replay, or just general debugging. Nothing wrong with any of this of course, but just not the sort of thing I would expect people to sacrifice a better livelihood for.
 
Last edited:

CommonSense

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Messages
680
Now I feel bad for buying Diablo II Resurrected. :-(
I really liked that game back in the day, and the remaster looks awesome.

Pity the company treats its employees like shet. Is this pure capitalism?
 
Top