As first reported by Bloomberg, the State of California has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, citing the major gaming publisher as a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.”
The lawsuit is the culmination of a two year long investigation into the company’s culture and business practices. According to the nearly 30-page court document, Activision Blizzard’s 9,500 person workforce is only about 20% women, and leadership is exclusively white and male. Female employees receive less salary across the board than male counterparts, and are terminated more swiftly.
Worse yet is a company culture described as “frat boy,” with constant and degrading sexual harassment. One female employee committed suicide during a business trip as a result.
Activision Blizzard responded with a lengthy and defensive statement, claiming that the lawsuit “includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.”
Current and former bigwigs in the company have been speaking out, giving half-hearted apologies and statements, while employees recently staged a massive walkout in protest of Activision Blizzard’s statement. Now, Activision Blizzard has hired a union-busting law firm, WilmerHale to create a better work environment (and avoiding employees unionizing).
It’s an ugly situation that may (and probably should) leave Activision Blizzard’s reputation permanently stained, though many employees from within are fighting for positive change.