Activision Blizzard Sued Over ‘Frat Boy’ Workplace Culture


The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing says Activision Blizzard allegedly promoted a sexist culture and paid women less than men. The company disputes those allegations.

Activision’s Los Angeles office in 2018 (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has sued Activision Blizzard for creating a “frat boy” culture that puts female employees at a disadvantage.

As first reported by Bloomberg Law, Activision Blizzard, whose workforce is approximately 80% male, “discrimination against female employees in terms and conditions of employment, including compensation, assignment, promotion and termination.”

In a statement, DFEH said its two-year investigation revealed that the company “reportedly promotes a sexist culture and pays women less than men, while women do substantially the same amount of work.” They employ women in lower-level jobs and promote them at rates slower than men, and are fired or forced to leave women at higher frequencies than men.”

In addition, “African American women and other women of color were particularly affected by Activision Blizzard’s discriminatory practices,” the agency says.

Activision Blizzard says, “In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.”

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, states, “Female employees continue to be subjected to sexual harassment, including persistent withholding of unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male coworkers and supervisors.” This includes groping so-called “cube crawls”, where intoxicated male employees circled women’s cubes for “indulging in inappropriate behavior towards female employees”.

The suit states that the complaints were not adequately addressed, because “HR personnel were known to be close to the alleged harassers.”

DFEH accuses the company of violating California’s Equal Pay Act as well as the Fair Employment and Housing Act. It claims that earlier this month efforts to settle the issue through dispute resolution were unsuccessful.

In its own statement, Activision Blizzard says, “DFEH contains distorted, and in many cases false, details of Blizzard’s past.”

The company argues that it has been “extremely cooperative with DFEH throughout its investigation, including providing them with comprehensive data and sufficient documentation, but they declined to tell us what the problem is. They are sufficient by law.” was required to thoroughly investigate and conduct good faith discussions with us to better understand and resolve any claims or concerns prior to going to trial, but they failed to do so. Instead, they rushed to file a wrong complaint, as we will demonstrate in the court.”

DFEH’s lawsuit refers to the suicide death of a female Activision Blizzard employee on a business trip. The company says the mention of that incident is “reprehensible” in part because his “passing has no bearing on the matter.”

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