Activision Blizzard lawsuit: a timeline of key events and everything you need to know

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Activision Blizzard, publisher of World of Warcraft, Diablo and Call of Duty, is being sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing after a two-year investigation into the company’s alleged discrimination against female employees.

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The suit claims that Activision Blizzard promotes a “pervasive ‘frat boy’ culture”, with persistent sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation against female employees at the company, as well as lower pay and lower opportunity levels than their male peers. .

Below, we’ve put together a timeline of key developments since the Activision Blizzard lawsuit was filed, with the most recent updates listed first, to help give you a more complete picture of the publisher’s actions and statements. We will update this timeline as more details emerge.

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Content Warning: The article below contains information that may be disturbing to some readers, including mentions of suicide, discrimination, sexual assault, and assault.

September

September 14 – Activision Blizzard employees accuse the company of union busting

Vice has reported that Activision Blizzard employees have filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the company of “intimidation and union busting.”

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They allege that “Activision Blizzard management is using coercive tactics to try to prevent its employees from exercising their rights to stand together and demand a more equitable, sustainable and diverse workplace.”

In a marked deterioration in the relationship, the employees’ charge document states that “the above-named employer has engaged in unlawful conduct by repeatedly threatening employees within the past six months,” and that strict social distancing measures were allegedly enforced to deter employees. Media rules were enforced. By posting about “wages, hours and working conditions” or inquiries about them.

On Twitter, the ABK Workers Alliance posted what employees are expected to see in charge:

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September 14 – Activision Blizzard hires new HR boss

On the same day that the National Labor Relations Board’s charge was made public, Activision Blizzard posted a statement announcing that Julie Hodges had been recruited as Chief Public Officer effective September 21. Hodges’s previous role was at Disney, where she was Senior Vice President. , Corporate Human Resources and Compensation, Benefits and Talent Acquisition.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said of the hiring, “I can’t think of a better person to join our team and help lead our ongoing commitment to an inclusive workplace.” ..Julie is the seasoned leader we need to make sure we are the most inspiring, equitable and exemplary entertainment company in the world.”

Hodges, who worked at Disney for 32 years, also issued a statement saying that “a workforce where everyone feels valued is critical to the success of our business, as is a trusting, engaging and safe environment that fosters creativity and creativity.” encourages innovation and in which all employees can flourish,” and that “I look forward to making sure that we harness the diversity of our talents to bring our people together and continue to create amazing entertainment.” support.”

August

August 26 and 27 – Developers removed references to Wold of Warcraft and Overwatch

Activision Blizzard has removed references in its games to the developers named in California’s DFEH lawsuit against the company. As PC Gamer reports, Overwatch character Macri, named after Diablo 4’s lead level designer Jesse McCree, will be renamed.

Jesse McCree left Activision Blizzard on August 11 (see our post below).

In a tweet, the Overwatch team explained that “as we continue to discuss how we live up to our values ​​and demonstrate our commitment to creating a game world that reflects them, we believe it is necessary to rename the currently known hero as McCree into something that is better represented for Overwatch.”

It also announced that a narrative arc planned for September would be delayed until a later year, as the McCree character is a “significant part”.

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The following day, the World of Warcraft team announced that Shadowlands Update 9.15 would “improve the in-game environment for our community, including additional changes to some content to better reflect our shared values, based on your in-game reports.” Effects include better visibility into harassment, and more severe punishments for those who engage in disruptive behavior.”

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The announcement didn’t go into specifics, but in an email to PC Gamer, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson confirmed that “in-game references to Jesse McCree, Luis Barriga, and John Laycraft will be removed from World of Warcraft.”

These are all the devs mentioned in the ongoing lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. As PC Gamer points out, Macri has five NPCs and a city to his name, Barriga has one NPC, Senior Scrivener Barriga is named after him, and there are several references to Laycraft in the game as well. All of these will probably be replaced.

August 11 – Activision Blizzard confirms the departure of Diablo 4’s director and lead designer

Kotaku reports that Diablo 4’s director, Luis Barriga, and lead designer, Jesse Macri, are no longer working at Activision Blizzard. In addition, the report claims that World of Warcraft designer Jonathan Laycraft is no longer employed at the company.

Activision Blizzard confirmed these departures in a statement to Kotaku, which read as follows:

“We can confirm that Luis Barriga, Jesse McCree and Jonathan Laycroft are no longer with the company.

“We already have a deep, talented roster of developers and have assigned new leaders where appropriate. We look forward to continuing to progress, providing our players with amazing experiences and ensuring a safe, productive work environment for all.” We believe in our ability to move forward.”

Activision Blizzard does not confirm the reason for these departures.

August 5 – SOC Investment Group issues letter to Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard shareholder, SOC Investment Group, issued a letter to the company stating that the steps Activision Blizzard has announced it is taking in response to the lawsuit will “settle equity, inclusion, and human capital management in the company.” “.

Shared with Axios, the letter is sent by Dieter Weisneger, Executive Director of SOC Investment Group and Robert J., Lead Independent Director at Activision Blizzard. addressed to Morgado. The letter reads as follows:

“While we appreciate the improved tone and increased detail in CEO Kotick’s recent letter to Activision Blizzard’s employees, customers and shareholders, the changes 1 Mr. Kotick announced address deeper and wider issues with equity, inclusion and equity.” , and human capital management in the company. To wit:

“• No changes have been announced or proposed that would in any way alter the current process of filling vacancies to the Board of Directors or Senior Management.

” • No changes have been announced with respect to executive pay, either with respect to withholding compensation from executives who have been found to be capable of or engaged in abusive behavior, or to align executives with equity goals. Mr. Kotick has clarified for

“• The review declared by Wilmer Hale is lacking in several ways: the firm has an excellent reputation as a wealthy and connected defender, but it has no track record of uncovering wrongdoings, the principal investigator’s in-depth There is no experience of workplace harassment and abuse investigations, and the scope of the investigation fails to address the full range of equity issues Mr Kotick acknowledges.

“We believe that to ensure smooth operation and a strong reputation going forward, Activision Blizzard must commit to the following changes:

“• Increase board diversity and equity by adding a female director – preferably one with a history of advocacy for marginalized people and communities – by the end of 2021, committed to gender-balance on the board by 2025, and at least one board Reserving a seat for a nominee selected by the current employees as their representative.

“• Claw back bonuses from executives found to be engaging in abusive behavior or found competent, no bonus for 2021, and the Company as having achieved clearly and independently verified milestones for diversity and equity But future bonuses make rewards contingent.

“• Perform a company-wide equity review similar to the racial equity reviews completed or promised by Facebook, Air B&B, Starbucks and BlackRock, but will cover the full range of concerns (including gender, implicit disparities in gender-identity ) , sexuality, and race) expressed by Mr. Kotick, Activision Blizzard employees and customers: issues of equity and representation in game design, the development process, and in user forums and similar settings.

“SOC Investment Group, formerly known as CTW Investment Group, is an Activision Blizzard shareholder and a coalition of four unions representing more than four million members, formed by unions affiliated with the Strategic Organizing Center, to increase long-term shareholding. Works with sponsored pension funds. Value through active ownership. These funds have more than $250 billion in assets under management and are also substantial Activision Blizzard shareholders.

Diversity and equality in the board of directors

“Currently, Activision Blizzard’s ten-member board of directors consists of only two women and one person of color. As a result, Activision Blizzard lags behind the average for both the S&P 500 and the Fortune 500 with respect to women …

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