California expands Activision Blizzard lawsuit to include temporary workers

Igor Bonifacic


California expands Activision Blizzard lawsuit to include temporary workers

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has expanded the scope of its sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against Activision Blizzard to include temporary workers. As first reported by Axios, the watchdog filed an amended complaint on Monday to redefine the group it plans to represent in the suit. The complaint now consistently references “workers” instead of “employees,” noting protections the state of California has in place to protect individuals from harassment and sexual discrimintation “exist for employees and contingent or temporary workers.”

The amended suit also alleges Activision Blizzard has used non-disclosure agreements to directly interfere with DFEH’s ability to investigate, prosecute and remedy the workplace violations that occurred at the company. Additionally, "documents related to investigations and complaints were shredded by human resource personnel," according to the agency.

We’ve reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment.

Following a two-year investigation into the company, DFEH last month accused Activision Blizzard executives of fostering a “frat boy” workplace culture. According to the agency, only 20 percent of all employees at the studio are women, and they’re consistently paid less, overlooked for promotions and fired faster than their male counterparts. Activision executives initially dismissed the lawsuit, claiming it included “distorted, and in many cases false descriptions of Blizzard’s past.”

Employees were quick to condemn the company’s response, calling it “abhorrent,” and they went on to stage a walkout at the end of July. Following the protest, Blizzard studio president J. Allen Brack, one of the executives named in the DFEH suit, stepped down, as did several other senior designers.

When Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick eventually pledged to take “swift action” to create a safe workplace, the company’s decision to bring in WilmerHale, a law firm that has a history of representing management on matters relating to unionizing, made many doubt the sincerity of his statements.

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