« Boys club », ” bullying “, « suicide »… The American video game publisher Activision Blizzard, creator of Call of duty, is accused by a California authority of promoting a culture of harassment against a background of unequal careers, in addition to similar accusations affecting other companies in the sector.
“The female employees almost all confirmed that working for [Activision] was equivalent to playing in a “boys club” ”, details a complaint filed Tuesday by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), a California state agency responsible for investigating civil law cases.
The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against the company headquartered in Santa Monica, California. She recounts in detail some of the games that the men of this company engage in, against a background of alcohol consumption and sexist remarks against women who represent approximately 20% of the group’s employees.
“Male employees proudly arrive at work drunk, play video games for long periods of time during their office hours, and delegate their work to women.”, is it written in the complaint. “They joke about their sex, talk openly about women’s bodies and joke about rape”, continues the document, specifying that the accusations of sexual harassment also relate to “High-ranking executives”.
The complaint against Activision Blizzard also refers to the suicide of an employee during a business trip, where she was accompanied by a male supervisor, which could be linked to sexual harassment, in particular during a party preceding her trip.
“We are disgusted by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH which combines with its complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose death has no connection with this affair and is without any regard to her grieving family”, reacted Thursday Activision Blizzard in a press release. The group claims more broadly than the accusations “Do not represent the working environment of Activision Blizzard today”.
Lower wages and reduced career opportunities
“Over the past few years, and since this survey began, we have made significant changes to improve the corporate culture and better reflect the diversity among our management teams”, assures the editor. This last point responds to one of the other accusations appearing in the complaint, the salary policy and the accession to positions of responsibility to which “Very few women succeed”. These are “Assigned to lower salaries and less prestigious career opportunities”, and start with wages lower than those of men, it is written.
Finally, the DFEH accuses Activision of having failed to deal with employee complaints. “Numerous complaints relating to cases of harassment, discrimination and reprisals have been lodged with the human resources department and with officials, including the president of [la filiale d’Activision], Blizzard Entertainment, J. Allen Black ». However, some of these complaints were spread by members of the HR department, suspected of proximity to alleged harassers.
An environment dominated by a male corporate culture
The video game industry is often considered to be an environment dominated by a male corporate culture, where sexist abuses and inappropriate behavior are frequent. Over the past year, cases of this kind have multiplied. Ubisoft was splashed in the summer of 2020 by multiple revelations about the sexist and violent behavior of several of its executives, resulting in several departures.
A week ago, the Ubisoft group was the subject of a complaint by two former employees at the Bobigny judicial court (Seine-Saint-Denis) for “Institutional harassment” against the group and ten individuals, including CEO Yves Guillemot.
In February, the American video game publisher and developer Riot Games, behind the famous League of Legends, and her French boss, Nicolo Laurent, were sued by a former employee in a Los Angeles court. A special committee of the board of directors ruled in March that there was no ” no proof “ of the involvement of his boss.