Blizzard employee claims company demoted her after reporting sexual harassment
Activision Blizzard has been at the centre of an ongoing lawsuit regarding the company’s work culture
An Activision Blizzard employee has claimed the company retaliated against and demoted her after she reported sexual harassment. She claims she was subjected to “unwanted sexual advances” and “invited to have casual sex” by supervisors while working there.
On the steps of Activision Blizzard’s offices on December 8, an employee named Christine, alongside attorney Lisa Bloom, shared her story of sexual harassment at the company for the first time.
Christine has worked at Activision Blizzard for four years, and is still employed there today. It was her “dream job”. However, her experience at the company, which has been embroiled in controversy over its “frat boy culture” in 2021, has reportedly been filled with sexual harassment.
“When I first heard about all the talented people working at Blizzard, I knew that was somewhere I wanted to work and somewhere I could excel in my career. I was excited to be a part of a community that seemed to care so much about their employees,” Christine said.
“Unfortunately, that didn’t happen to me.”
“I’ve been subjected to rude comments about my body, unwanted sexual advances, inappropriately touched, subjected to alcohol-infused events and ‘cube crawls’ [an act outlined in the Californian DFEH lawsuit against the company], invited to have casual sex with my supervisors, and surrounded by a frat boy culture that’s detrimental to women.”
Christine claims after she reported the claims of sexual harassment, Activision Blizzard retaliated against her. She was reportedly demoted, further harassed, denied full profit sharing, denied shares in the company, and had minimal raises.
The company posted a $639 million profit in the third-quarter of 2021, plus a 22% increase in net revenue in the Blizzard division alone to $478 million.
“When I complained to my supervisors, I was told ‘They were just joking’ and that I should get over it,” she said. “I was told not to go to HR. I was told that the harassing men were ‘just trying to be friends with me.’ I was told, ‘They did nothing wrong by law.’”
“Fighting to keep my job in this toxic workplace culture has taken a severe toll on my mental health.”
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Christine’s attorney, Lisa Bloom, stated at the December 8 press conference that “sexual harassment victims at Activision Blizzard have been ignored”, and the company’s attempts to try and fix the problem have been insufficient.
“Given that there are hundreds of victims, I think we can all agree the $18 million number is woefully inadequate,” she said, talking about the company’s current discrimination fund value set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Bloom outlined three demands, on behalf of all Activision Blizzard employees, not just Christine. The attorney requested Blizzard increase their legal fund to “in excess of $100 million”, and let “victim advocates participate in setting the rules” of settlements.
She also demanded the company releases a “real apology” to Christine and other victims of sexual harassment and retalization, as well as a review by a “neutral third-party” to determine the career damage employees have suffered as a result of sexual harassment.
Workers at the company filed a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaints in September over fears of intimidation.
“We demand that Activision Blizzard prioritize its sexual harassment victims beginning now. We don’t need more corporate ‘blah blah blah’. It’s time for action.”
In a statement to Polygon, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said: “We appreciate the courage of our current and former employees in coming forward with reports of misconduct, and we are truly sorry for any victims of people whose conduct did not live up to our values.
“As we have continued to reaffirm in our recent communications, such conduct is not consistent with our standards, our expectations, and what the vast majority of our employees meet on a daily basis.
“The company is committed to creating an environment we can all be proud of. We are in the process of implementing significant changes and improvements to the scope, structure and efficiency of our compliance and human resources teams, reporting systems, and transparency into our investigation process.”