In 2021, the state of California sued Activision Blizzard alleging that the online game writer fostered a pervasive tradition of harassment going again years. Particulars within the swimsuit spoke of “dice crawls” the place male staff would get drunk and stroll across the office subjecting feminine staff to inappropriate habits. It alleged that male staff would pawn off tasks to their feminine co-workers, how ladies of coloration have been handed up for alternatives given to much less tenured employees, and the way a senior World of Warcraft developer was so notorious for his harassment of ladies that his office was nicknamed the “Cosby suite.”
However information of the swimsuit was simply the opening salvo in what would change into a battery of reporting, documenting the sorts of harassment that went on at Activision Blizzard. Present and former staff shared their tales, together with how a lady was demoted for allegedly reporting her harasser, how a nursing mom had her breast milk stolen from firm fridges, and the way one employee’s sexual harassment led to their death by suicide.
Amidst that reporting, The Wall Road Journal launched its personal report accusing Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick of knowing about, ignoring, and, in some cases, perpetrating harassment of his employees.
Kotick has apologized for some allegations, together with one the place he left a voicemail threatening to have his assistant killed, however denied others.
And in a brand new interview with Variety, Kotick additional denied that Activision Blizzard had any pervasive points with abuse. As a substitute, he blamed labor organizers for the corporate’s issues.
“We’ve had each potential type of investigation performed. And we didn’t have a systemic difficulty with harassment — ever,” he mentioned within the interview. “However what we did have was a really aggressive labor motion working laborious to try to destabilize the corporate.”
Kotick described the reporting performed on worker harassment and abuse at Activision Blizzard as “mischaracterizations” whereas asserting that the corporate has a comparatively low proportion of harassment complaints for its 17,000 staff. A transparency report, launched Wednesday, outlined the corporate’s standing in relation to a number of acknowledged objectives like growing the variety of ladies it employs and the variety of harassment claims it acquired and acted upon. In keeping with the report, the corporate investigated 116 complaints and was capable of substantiate 31 of them, leading to some sort of motion. Nevertheless the report seems to omit the entire variety of claims it acquired.
We additionally know that Activision Blizzard agreed to pay the Securities and Alternate Fee $35 million after it determined that the company did not have proper reporting structures in place. Activision Blizzard additionally settled its suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $18 million — a settlement the state of California tried and failed to dam, citing considerations that it might hinder its personal case. Lawyer Lisa Bloom, identified for litigating high-profile harassment instances and counsel for a Blizzard worker, known as the identical settlement “woefully inadequate.”
Whereas Kotick was fast responsible unions for lots of the firm’s personnel points, he additionally claimed to assist unions, stating that he’s not anti-union as a result of he’s a member of a union himself — becoming a member of SAG-AFTRA for his look in Moneyball — and due to his mom.
“I’ve a mom who was a trainer. I’ve no aversion to a union,” he mentioned. “What I do have an aversion to is a union that doesn’t play by the foundations.”
Talking of “taking part in by the foundations,” Activision Blizzard has had a number of unfair labor apply complaints filed in opposition to it. The Nationwide Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has discovered benefit in a number of of those complaints, including illegal surveillance, threatening employees’ protected rights, and illegally withholding compensation due to union exercise.
Morale at Activision Blizzard has taken a beating these final two years, and staff have responded to all of the information with walkouts, demands for Kotick’s resignation, organizing for better treatment, and winning historic victories for the online game labor motion in North America. Proper now, Activision Blizzard is within the midst of a sale to Microsoft — a sale that was thought would possibly save the company from its sordid present and Kotick himself via golden parachute. Now that the deal has been credibly threatened by regulators, it looks like Kotick is deploying a brand new technique to restore his and his firm’s repute — by blaming everybody however himself.