The internet is exploding tonight over a lawsuit that has been filed against Activision Blizzard accusing the company of covering up horrific behaviour toward women.
Several screen grabs of the case (No. 21STCV26571) are circulating Twitter and women are telling their stories while #Blizzard trends across the platform.
The investigation has been on going for two years and multiple accusations have been made. Beyond women being passed up for promotions, under paid and generally sexualized, Activision Blizzard is accused of “pervasive frat boy workplace culture that continues to thrive. In the office, women are subjected to ‘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.” It is also noted further on that the women are often groped at these “cube crawls” and other company events.
The defendant’s complaints to human resources personnel and executives—all the way up to Blizzard Entertainment’s President, J. Allen Brack—resulted in little to no repercussions, and women were discouraged from coming forward as the complaints were not kept confidential.
The lawsuit claims that female employees are denied equal pay, passed over for promotions despite clear accomplishments, and assigned to lower levels. Female employees were said to be assigned the work of the male supervisors while they opted to play video games, with some even refusing to speak to the female employees.
The lawsuit also notes that Activision Blizzard “is only about 20% women. Its top leadership is also exclusively male and white. the CEO and President roles are now—and have always been—held by white men. Very few women ever reach the top roles at the company. The women who do reach higher roles earn less salary, incentive pay and total compensation than their male peers, as evidenced in the Defendant’s own records.”
Some of the most heinous claims in the lawsuit are surrounding a female employee who committed suicide on a business trip after her male supervisor brought butt plugs and lubricant with him on the trip. On top of that, its alleged that male employees go unpunished for casual jokes about rape, boasting about sexual encounters and commenting on female employees in a sexual manner.
Countless women have come forward on Twitter about the conditions working for Activision Blizzard, some going back as far as ten years. People have accused the company of covering up rape, some have blamed themselves for things that happened in the workplace, and many men and women are reaching out to support victims from any workplace in any capacity they can.
This is extremely sad to hear given the recent news about Activision Blizzard backing Girls Who Code, a high school summer immersion program focused on 1 on 1 mentoring from female Blizzard employees. Sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace is common in many places, but especially in the games’ industry, and unfortunately the allegations are not surprising to most.
We will continue to follow the story to see how Activision Blizzard responds and how the lawsuit unfolds.