• December 7, 2021

More Activision Blizzard Accusations Emerge When Former Developer Calls For Industry Unionization • Eurogamer.net

More accusations about Activision Blizzard emerged this week following a recent lawsuit filed by the state of California alleging widespread discrimination and harassment against women at the maker of World of Warcraft.

More than 2,000 current and former Activision Blizzard employees signed a petition calling the company’s response to the recent discrimination lawsuit “abhorrent and insulting.”

Activision Blizzard’s initial public comment on the lawsuit was to flatly deny its claims. An email sent to staff by Activision Blizzard executive Fran Townsend, who was George W. Bush’s national security and counterterrorism assistant from 2004 to 2008, has been heavily criticized by staff.

Amid a significant stock price drop, Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick told staff that the company’s initial response was “muffled.” Hundreds of employees went on strike Wednesday at Blizzard headquarters in Irvine, California, and many more participated virtually around the world.

In the days since, more disturbing allegations have emerged.

CONTENTS WARNING AHEAD.

A IGN The article published this week contains allegations from Activision Blizzard staff that support much of what is alleged in the state of California lawsuit. According to IGN, women avoided drinking events at Blizzard due to their reputation, and around 2015, women were subjected to inappropriate touching in the chest area and in other parts of Blizzard’s main office.

Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick.

Activision Blizzard told IGN that Blizzard implemented a two-drink limit at company events in 2018.

IGN also reports that at one point, a room at Blizzard designated for breastfeeding did not have locks, and a source said “men were walking into the breastfeeding room. There was no way to close the door. They were just looking and I have to yell at them that they leave “.

IGN said lactation rooms now have door locks.

Waypoint reported that Blizzard recruiters asked a security researcher if she “liked being penetrated,” among other inappropriate comments, at a job fair in 2015.

Two years later, Blizzard contacted a security company where the researcher in question was the COO.

The CEO of the company, Jeremi Gosney, wrote a scathing response to Blizzard describing the incident, issuing three conditions under which the two companies could work together. One of them was charging Blizzard a 50 percent “misogyny tax,” the proceeds of which would be donated to Women in Technology International, Girls in Tech and Girls Who Code.

Gosney took Twitter last night to say “Blizzard had no interest in agreeing to our terms,” ​​and “they still owe” the COO a formal written apology.

Blizzard declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Waypoint reported that in 2018, a former Activision Blizzard worker installed cameras in a bathroom at the company’s sales and quality control office in Minnesota with the intention of spying on employees while using the bathroom. The employee received a suspended prison sentence.

The New York Times posted an account of a former Activision Blizzard customer service employee who alleged that she once declined medications offered to her by her manager at a party, hampering her career, and that a manager messaged her on Facebook asking her questions. inappropriate sexual nature.

A former vice president alleged that an executive asked her to have sex with him “because she ‘deserved to have fun’ after her boyfriend had died weeks earlier.”

Bloomberg addressed the question of whether Activision Blizzard will now listen to employee demands. A spokesperson for the employees who organized the Blizzard strike said Bloomberg Management has not even acknowledged their demands, which include ending mandatory arbitration clauses in workers’ contracts, hiring and promoting more diverse candidates, publishing salary data, and allowing a third party to audit HR and reporting procedures for employees. Activision.

The response from an Activision spokesperson was described as “generic.” “We know there are a variety of issues to consider,” Activision Blizzard said.

Unionization has long been suggested as an option for video game developers, although it does not currently exist in North America.

This week, Jeff Strain, who used to work at Blizzard before co-founding Guild Wars ArenaNet developer and then State of Decay developer Undead Labs, wrote a letter, posted by IGN, advocating for unionization within the games industry, and even told his employees to unionize with their full support.

In the letter, Strain said he was part of a “cataclysmic meeting” in 1998 with one of Blizzard’s founders about “our objections to the dismembered and impaled female body parts in the beta version of Diablo.” After this meeting, Strain and his wife began planning to leave Blizzard.

“… I have nothing to fear from unionization, nor any company that pays employees fairly and equitably, provides quality health insurance, shows respect and courtesy for female employees, POC, LGBTQ + and supports a healthy and complete life, “Strain said.

What will happen to the lawsuit of the state of California against Activision Blizzard? According to the Washington PostSome labor law experts believe the case is likely to be strong for the plaintiffs, and one expert said they do not expect the case to be dismissed early.

Activision Blizzard must now respond to the claims in the lawsuit within 30 days of notification or challenge a procedural aspect of the case. If a judge lets the case proceed, we are watching the discovery process before the judge decides if the case warrants going to trial.

Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard has enlisted the WilmerHale law firm to “review” the company’s human resource policies. WilmerHale, like Kotaku He noted, it is the same law firm that helps Amazon prevent its workers from unionizing.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is also involved in the ongoing case against League of Legends maker Riot Games. DFEH opposed a proposed $ 10 million settlement, saying the figure could be as high as $ 400 million.

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