You might know Activision Blizzard by major gaming titles like Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, and Guitar Hero. Now, the public is quickly coming to know the company as one with a toxic “frat boy” culture filled with sexual harassment and discrimination.
In a recent lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Activision Blizzard seems to have a long history of treating women differently. The lawsuit claims they are paid less than male counterparts, disciplined differently, and rarely offered promotions. Here’s the inside look into the case.
Female staff at Activision have had enough of what they call “frat boy culture,” which happens on a daily basis. They claim their male coworkers show up to work hungover, playing videogames for long hours while delegating their workplace tasks to female employees. These men openly talk about sexual encounters, female bodies, and even make jokes about rape.
One part of the lawsuit talks about “cube crawls,” in which male employees get drunk on the job before crawling under cubicles in the offices as they look up their female employees’ skirts and engage in other lewd behavior. The women at Activision also talk about constantly fending off unwanted sexual comments and advances.
More Serious Claims
The World of Warcraft Team, on Activision’s Blizzard end, also spoke to much of the same treatment. Derogatory comments about rape and one story detailing a manager encouraging an employee to buy a prostitute were among the worst. One manager, Alex Afrasiabi, is accused of groping and kissing female employees.
In a more harrowing story, one female employee took her life after a business trip with a male supervisor. That supervisor had brought lube and sex toys along for the trip, and employees say she was routinely harassed to the point where a photo of her vagina was passed around at a holiday party.
Pay and Race Discrimination
The lawsuit goes beyond harassment to include a long history of paying female employees less, as well as passing them up for promotions and opportunities in favor of less qualified men. It also points out that leadership is dominated by men. Those that are women make significantly less than their male peers.
Management discriminates against women who have children or are pregnant, the lawsuit alleges, telling women they cannot promote them because thewy might, “like being a mom too much.” Parents working for the company note that women had been kicked out of lactation rooms so the space could be used for meetings.
Women of color had a lot to say as well, adding to the male dominated management landscape by saying those roles were held by white men. These women noted different, harsher treatment for actions the company allows other employees to do openly such as taking a break for a walk or slouching in a chair.
One African American employee had to write a one-page summary of how she would spend all of her time off after submitting the request. No other employee had to do so, which would mean management singled her out and levied discriminatory actions.
The lawsuit also alleges that Activision Blizzard failed to take action on the countless complaints they received, even from those who has hired a San Francisco workplace harassment lawyer. The company released a statement, but it called the allegations distorted and false while mostly attacking the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
They also claimed the woman who committed suicide has no bearing on this case. Hopefully the trial will expose any and all harassment within the company, seeing justice done to the victims of such a toxic work environment.