Activision Blizzard’s turbulent summer isn’t over yet, as the company now faces yet another major lawsuit, filed in this case by the company’s own employees as the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union. The bombshell discrimination lawsuit leveled against Activision Blizzard in July has sparked some employee action at the ununionized publisher, including a one-day walkout and the founding of A Better ABK, which aims to advocate for better work conditions.
The next logical step could be full-on unionization, but according to the CWA, Activision Blizzard has tried to nip that in the bud by “surveilling employees, interrogating them, making threats and promising benefits.” The CWA also criticized Acti-Blizz’s hiring of law firm WilmerHale to perform an audit, as they've gained a reputation for caring more about heading off unionization than actually uncovering wrongdoing. CWA organizing director Tom Smith was unsparing in his assessment of Acti-Blizz’s behavior…
Management could have responded with humility and a willingness to take necessary steps to address the horrid conditions some [Activision Blizzard] workers have faced. Instead Activision Blizzard’s response to righteous worker activity was surveillance, intimidation and hiring notorious union busters.
Of course, the CWA has a dog in this fight, but regardless of whether you’re pro-union or not, the kind of heavy-handed coercion they describe isn’t something any employee should have to deal with. Activision Blizzard has yet to respond publicly to this story. Like all the lawsuits they currently face, this one will have its day in court.
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 World of 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 Acti-Blizz employees, leading to a worker walkout. Acti-Blizz CEO Bobby Kotick would eventually apologize for the company’s initial response, calling it “tone deaf.” Several high-ranking Blizzard employees, including former president J. Allen Brack and Diablo IV and World of Warcraft team leaders have resigned or been fired, with their names being stripped for certain characters.