The state of California has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over allegations of a “frat boy” culture where female employees are allegedly subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation. The complaint, filed Tuesday, said that the alleged “pervasive frat boy workplace culture” consists of alleged “cube crawls” where male employees would allegedly “drink copious amounts of alcohol” as they allegedly crawl their way through the various cubicles in the office and often engage in alleged inappropriate behavior towards female employees. The complaint also states that female employees allege being held back from promotions because of the possibility that they may become pregnant, being criticized for leaving to pick up their children from daycare, and allegedly being kicked out of lactation rooms so male colleagues could use the room for meetings.
The state agency alleges that male employees play video games during the workday and will delegate responsibilities to female employees, allegedly engage in sexual banter, allegedly joke openly about rape, among other things. Female employees working for the World of Warcraft team noted that male employees would allegedly hit on them, make allegedly derogatory comments about rape, and otherwise engage in alleged demeaning behavior. The lawsuit also mentions a female Activision employee who allegedly took her own life while on a company trip with her male supervisor. The employee was subjected to allegedly intense sexual harassment prior to her death, including allegedly having nude photos passed around during a company holiday party.
The state agency seeks an injunction forcing compliance with workplace protections, as well as unpaid wages, pay adjustments, back pay, and lost wages and benefits for female employees.
“DFEH alleges that women were subjected to constant sexual harassment, including groping, comments, and advances,” the state agency said in a press release. “The lawsuit also alleges that the company’s executives and human resources personnel knew of the harassment and failed to take responsible steps to prevent the unlawful conduct, and instead retaliated against women who complained.”
A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard said in a statement to Bloomberg, “We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind. We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.”
“The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived,” the statement continued.
The company said that “the picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today.”