One of the most prominent companies for videogame development and competition, Activision Blizzard, has been sued in a civil lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The suit spells out allegations against the gaming giant claiming that it “fostered a sexist culture”. The accusations by the state of California are extensive and may point to a wider issue that fans believe needs addressing in the videogame development industry.
The American video games industry market reached an all-time high of $66.8 billion in 2020. Additionally, the Santa Monica-based company Activision Blizzard is the fifth-largest gaming company in the world, meaning the civil lawsuit filed against them has huge stakes. As Los Angeles civil litigation attorneys are gearing up for what they believe to be one of the most high-profile employment cases in recent history, Okabe & Haushalter want to uncover the consequences of being filed a civil lawsuit.
The merger company between Activision Publishing and Blizzard Entertainment has faced problems for quite some time. NPR, the BBC, and other major news networks have been keeping a close eye on the company since the details of their treatment of women have come to light. Among these includes the suicide of one of the employees at BlizzCon, the annual convention held by Blizzard Entertainment after several high-level employees passed around nude photos of her. The lawsuit additionally highlights how women were required to do more work at less pay, not allowed breaks like their male counterparts, and sometimes subject to the “Bill Cosby suite” – Senior Creative Director for World of Warcraft Alex Afrasabi’s hotel room.
The backlash began immediately, as many women took to Twitter to share their experiences of sexual harassment and discrimination at Activision Blizzard. This comes just three years after Riot Games, another major game development studio, was similarly sued by the State of California for “gender discrimination and harassment”. The shockwaves produced a mass exodus of Activision Blizzard gamers who are claiming to sign out in protest of the accusations. Thousands of employees at the company additionally signed a petition and staged a walkout to express their dismay with the handling of the case.
Activision Blizzard initially denied all of the allegations against them. The Santa Monica company claimed that the accusations were “distorted and in many cases false”, but pivoting later as the CEO said the response was “tone deaf”. In recent days, the California DEFH has ramped up its efforts, claiming the company has been shredding evidence surrounding the case. Activision Blizzard has denied these new developments, stating that they “took appropriate steps to preserve information relevant to the… investigation.” They took the opportunity to add that they have provided the department with clear evidence that they do not have gender pay disparities and that they have taken numerous steps to fix problems in the company.
As onlookers critique the company for their rollback of numerous statements, many have been quick to point out the contradictory nature of their denials of the allegations and their boasts of changes made to the culture of the company. In any case, Activision Blizzard has reportedly fired many of the accused, revamped their department of human resources, and made other sweeping changes across the company.
Southern California is an area of the country rampant with employment, civil rights, and other business-related accusations. Although many are found to be guilty of their crimes, others have no participation in what is alleged against them. If you are seeking a California civil litigation attorney, Okabe & Haushalter are here to help. We provide experienced and competitive defense lawyers to a diverse range of cases in the Los Angeles and Southern California area. To contact us, call us today at 310-430-7799 or message us directly through our online contact form.