Activision Blizzard is facing another lawsuit alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination at the company. A Bloomberg report says the lawsuit, filed on behalf of a current employee, alleges that “Activision Blizzard’s open ‘frat boy’ environment fostered rampant sexism, harassment and discrimination,” resulting in 700 reported incidents of misconduct during CEO Bobby Kotick’s tenure.
The suit states that on the employee’s first day of work at the company in 2017, she was taken to an “initiation lunch” where she was pressured to do tequila shots and to share an “embarrassing secret” with everyone present. She was also often pressured to drink alcohol and participate in “cube crawls” in in which women were subjected to sexual comments and groping, and to take part in an after-hours game in which players had to provide “creative answers” to mainly sexual questions.
Because of the treatment, the plaintiff began to dress “more conservatively” and avoid offsite events. When she complained, she was told that it was “just her leadership being nice and trying to be friends with her,” and that she should avoid speaking out in order to avoid damaging the company. Her workplace grew increasingly hostile, leading her to apply for other positions in the company, but she wasn’t offered a different role—at lower pay and status—until she complained in writing to former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, who left the studio in August 2021. In November 2021, she applied for an open executive assistant position, but after speaking about her experiences publicly the following month, her application was rejected.
The suit names Activision Blizzard and Blizzard as defendants, as well as a handful of individuals including senior vice president Derek Ingalls and former Blizzard chief technology officer Ben Kilgore, both of whom have been named in previous reports about misconduct at Blizzard.
The allegations are, unfortunately, very familiar: A litany of misconduct, silence, and protection of abusers. During a 2018 team meeting, for instance, a photo was taken of all the men present flipping off the camera in response to Kilgore’s termination as a result of credible sexual assault allegations against him. Ingalls emailed a copy of the photo to the company leadership as well as to the defendant, which she said signalled “that leadership thought Defendant Kilgore’s departure for sexual misconduct was a joke.”
The lawsuit is being filed by attorney Lisa Bloom, the lawyer who demanded an Activision Blizzard victim compensation fund “in excess of $100 million” in a December 2021 press conference held in front of Blizzard headquarters. It seeks financial damages including medical expenses, lost earnings, and “impairment of earning capacity,” as well as widespread changes to Activision Blizzard’s human resources department and policies, a no-contact order for Skorupa, and an order requiring the company to terminate Kotick’s employment as CEO with cause.
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