In the wake of the explosive DFEH lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard, we’ve heard plenty of unsettling accounts of sexual harassment, discrimination, and toxic management at the company, up to and including the company’s own CEO Bobby Kotick, but these kinds of stories always have more impact when you hear them from somebody’s own mouth. That’s what happened earlier today, when high-profile lawyer Lisa Bloom held a press conference with “Christine” (her last name was withheld for the sake of privacy) who shared her own harrowing experiences. I’ve transcribed her key claims, below.
Working at Blizzard was my dream job. When I first heard about all the talented people working at Blizzard, I knew that was somewhere I wanted to work. I was so excited to be a part of a community that seemed to care so much about their employees. Unfortunately, that didn't happen for me. Since I've been employed at Blizzard, I've been subjected to rude comments about my body, unwanted sexual advances, inappropriately touched, subjected to alcohol-fueled team events and "cube crawls," invited to have casual sex with my supervisors, and surrounded by a frat boy culture that's detrimental to women.
When I complained to my supervisors, I was told they were "just joking," and that I should get over it. I began to remove myself from work events to avoid sexual comments and groping. I was told not to go to HR. After I complained of the sexual harassment, I was demoted. I was then further harassed and retaliated against. I've been denied my full profit sharing, denied shares in the company, and had minimal raises in the four years I've been employed with Blizzard.
Bloom is not only representing Christine, but seeking others who have suffered harassment or discrimination at Activision Blizzard, possibly raising the spectre of a class-action lawsuit. Bloom laid out three demands of the company, including 1) a streamlined process for affected parties to resolve claims, with an expanded $100 million compensation fund, 2) a “real” apology to victims, and 3) an outside revue of the career damage those affected have suffered.
Lisa Bloom has represented women in a number of high-profile sexual misconduct cases, including those against Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, and Donald Trump, so the fact that she’s now tackling Activision Blizzard is not something to be taken lightly by the publisher.
For those who haven’t been keeping up, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has filed suit against Activision Blizzard, alleging gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the Call of Duty and Warcraft publisher. Activision Blizzard’s official response to the suit accuses the DFEH of “distorted […] and false” descriptions and insists the picture painted is “is not the Blizzard workplace of today.” An open letter objecting to the official response was signed by thousands of current and former employees. Acti-Blizz CEO Bobby Kotick would eventually apologize for the company’s initial response, but would later be accused of covering up misconduct and personal misdeeds. While Kotick is still CEO (despite demands for him to step down), several high-ranking employees, including former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack and Diablo IV and World of Warcraft team leaders have resigned or been fired, leading to name changes for some characters. The story has even attracted the attention of the US Federal Government, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opening a "wide-ranging" investigation.
I’m sure this won’t be last personal lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard. As always, we here at Wccfech will keep you updated as the story develops.