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Suit Claims Sexual Harassment, Discrimination At Game Studio Activision Blizzard : NPR

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A lawsuit filed by the state of California on Wednesday alleges sexual harassment, gender discrimination and violations of the state’s equal pay regulation on the online game large Activision Blizzard.

Rich Polk/Getty Images for Activision

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Rich Polk/Getty Images for Activision

A lawsuit filed by the state of California on Wednesday alleges sexual harassment, gender discrimination and violations of the state’s equal pay regulation on the online game large Activision Blizzard.

Rich Polk/Getty Images for Activision

The online game studio behind the hit franchises Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush is dealing with a civil lawsuit in California over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and potential violations of the state’s equal pay regulation.

A grievance, filed by the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing on Wednesday, alleges that Activision Blizzard Inc. “fostered a sexist culture” the place ladies had been paid lower than males and subjected to ongoing sexual harassment together with groping. (Activision and Blizzard Entertainment merged in 2008.)

Officials on the gaming firm knew in regards to the harassment and never solely did not cease it however retaliated towards ladies who spoke up, the grievance additionally alleges.

Years after the net harassment marketing campaign referred to as Gamergate focused ladies within the online game world, the California lawsuit depicts an business that may nonetheless be unwelcoming and even hostile to feminine workers.

“All employers should ensure that their employees are being paid equally and take all steps to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation,” mentioned DFEH Director Kevin Kish. “This is especially important for employers in male-dominated industries, such as technology and gaming.”

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In an announcement offered to NPR, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson mentioned the corporate had labored to enhance its firm tradition lately and accused the DFEH of not adequately attempting to resolve the claims towards it earlier than resorting to a lawsuit.

“The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past,” the assertion learn. “The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today.”

Women workers had been paid much less and assigned lower-level jobs, the grievance says

The lawsuit alleges that Activision Blizzard’s feminine employees who spoke to investigators “almost universally confirmed” that their time on the firm was “akin to working in a frat house.”

Male workers drank on the job and got here to work hungover, the lawsuit mentioned. The alleged sexual harassment ranged from feedback about ladies’s our bodies and jokes about rape to the undesirable touching of feminine workers by their male friends.

The grievance, which was the results of a two-year investigation by DFEH, claims that the unequal therapy of ladies went past firm tradition to the extra formal elements of their jobs.

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Women had been allegedly paid lower than males, each once they had been employed and in the course of the course of their employment. They had been additionally assigned to lower-level positions and handed over for promotions, regardless of doing extra work than their male friends in some instances, in response to the lawsuit. One girl mentioned her supervisor instructed her she would not be promoted as a result of “she might get pregnant and like being a mom too much.”

The intercourse discrimination was even worse for girls of shade, the go well with claims. At least two African-American ladies reported being singled out and micromanaged.

Some of the ladies who got here ahead with complaints of discrimination or harassment confronted involuntary transfers, had been chosen for layoffs or had been denied sure alternatives, the go well with mentioned.

Activision Blizzard says it does not tolerate sexual misconduct

Activision Blizzard, in its assertion, mentioned it didn’t tolerate sexual misconduct or harassment and famous that investigated all claims, including that it was making it simpler for workers to report violations.

The firm additionally mentioned it strives to pay its workers “fairly for equal or substantially similar work” and be sure that pay is pushed by “non-discriminatory factors,” comparable to efficiency.

“We are confident in our ability to demonstrate our practices as an equal opportunity employer that fosters a supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace for our people, and we are committed to continuing this effort in the years to come,” the spokesperson mentioned. “It is a shame that the DFEH did not want to engage with us on what they thought they were seeing in their investigation.”

But a number of former workers took to social media Wednesday after the lawsuit was filed to corroborate a number of the allegations it contained.

“Blizzard has claimed that the DFEH report is false/misleading/irresponsible,” former Blizzard Entertainment worker Cher Scarlett tweeted. “I can tell you that I knew what was going to be in this report before I read it because during my time there – for only a YEAR – I witnessed ALL OF THESE THINGS.”

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