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Update: The judge rejects Activision Blizzard attempt to stop demand

Activision Blizzard is a computer and video game group based in Santa Monica, California, USA. The company originated from the Fusion of the Publisher Activision with Vivendi Universal Games. In terms of sales, the company is the market leader in the computer and video games sector. The shares of the company are traded under the abbreviation ATVI at the NASDAQ. Majority owner was Vivendi until July 2013. The company arose on 10 July 2008 by the merger of the US Group Activision and Vivendi Games, a 100% subsidiary of the media company Vivendi. The Game Sup of Vivendi was incorporated into Activision, which Vivendi received the stock majority of Activision Blizzard with 52 percent of the shares. Vivendi has relied on options the possibility of increasing the shares to 68 percent. The component Blizzard in the company name returns to the computer games developer Blizzard Entertainment, which Vivendi Games introduced into the new Group. Due to the general knownness by the development of the computer game World of Warcraft, the high sales share in Vivendi Games and the autonomy that the studio enjoys both under Vivendi Games and the new group, the fusion partners decided to accommodate Blizzard on behalf of the company .

Last July, the Department of Housing and Fair Employment of California filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for Violations of the Civil Rights of the State and the Laws of Equality related to the treatment given to women. The document, which summarizes the result of two years of research, emphasizes the already known BRO Culture (behavior similar to that of a university fraternity) that prevails within the company and directly relates it to a constant abuse of employees that includes Sexual friction, comments and unwanted advances ». It also reflects that the women of the study receive a worse remuneration by the same work and that more slowly amount to them.

These accusations against the US company have dynamited the video game press with constant news about statements by its leaders, people leaving the company and interviews with current and ancient workers who have spoken about their bad experiences within the Labor Culture of Activision Blizzard.

This article reviews the holders on the Case Activision Blizzard, and is constantly updated. To facilitate the reading of those who follow the case, now the most recent news will appear above.

Update: The judge rejects Activision Blizzard attempt to stop demand

On October 20, amid the news issued by Fran Townsend, CCO of Activision, in which he claimed that more than 20 employees had left the company as a result of demand and another 20 had received sanctions, we also knew that the company presented A request to suspend the initial demand. What brought the legal representation of the company, was that they wanted to temporarily suspend the procedures while investigating the claims between the EEOC and the DFEH for ethical violations.

However, on October 25 we were able to know that Timothy Patrick Dillon, the court judge of Los Angeles County, has denied Activision Blizzard s request to suspend the trial, as he shows the written published in Law360. Although Dillion did not give details about the reasons for him to dismantle this order, the DFEH has positioned himself on this decision saying that the petition was unfounded .

The Employment Commission accuses the Department of Employment and Housing of California of Conflict of Interests

On October 11, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) accused the Department of Employment and Housing of California (DFEH) of ethical violations and conflict of interest while trying that the EEOC will not reach an agreement With Activision Blizzard, because the DFEH filed objections to the resolution for 18 million dollars that had been proposed. These objections caused the agreement to not be effective yet.

Two lawyers of the DFEH, who now have important roles within the organization, previously worked in the EEOC, helping directly at Research No. 480-2018-05212 against Activision Blizzard Inc., the employment commission declared. These lawyers represent the DFEH just in this case, so they intend to oppose the decree of consent that emerged from the same investigation that helped to lead while in the EEOC .

These accusations caused the change of lawyers from the Department of Employment to avoid conflicts of interest in the future, although the Federal Agency requested that any product, work or advice derived from the work of these two professionals were withdrawn, since this is a Ethical violation of the Code of Conduct, in addition to a breach of crossed research laws.

Activision Blizzard must pay 18 million dollars to the US Employment Commission.

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC, according to its acronym in English) has joined the plaintiffs among which are already the DFEH, the SEC or its own shareholders. The new demand was presented on September 27, and claimed that Activision Blizzard was responsible for employees who faced sexual harassment, discrimination by pregnancy and related retaliation. The lawsuit said that the Agency issued a letter to Activision on June 15, almost a month before the DFEH demand was issued and, according to Wall Street Journal, both sides have been in talks since then.

The company has issued a statement on the resolution of the demand: According to the agreement, Activision Blizzard has committed to creating a fund of 18 million dollars to compensate and compensate eligible claimants. The amounts that are not used for applicants will be divided between charities that promote women in the videogame industry or promote awareness of issues of harassment and gender equality, as well as diversity initiatives, equality and inclusion of the company , as approved by the EEOC. The agreement is subject to the approval of the Court ».

The official documents have revealed that the research of the EEOC has taken place for about three years and, despite extensive discussions of conciliation , the agency has not been able to reach an acceptable conciliation agreement until it demanded directly to the company.

In order to assess this compensation, we can put 18 million dollars in context against the figures that the company handles. During the last fiscal year, Activision Blizzard registered net income of 8,100 million dollars, and net reserves of 8,400 million, and during the last quarter, 2,300 million managed to enter. In addition, in March of this year we also knew that its CEO, Bobby Kotick, received bonuses worth 200 million dollars.

Overwatch executive producer leaves Blizzard Entertainment

On September 21, Overwatch s executive producer, Chacko Sonny, has warned the company s staff that on the 24th of the same month he would leave Blizzard. Sonny described his time in the company as an absolute privilege and one of the best experiences in his career and, as in most of these outings, he has not made any reference to demands for sexual harassment and discrimination of gender. Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, current coliders of the company, have cataloged Sonny as a reflective leader , and from the news of Bloomberg the employees with whom they could speak reported that he was a respected member of the company and they were not at So much that it was involved in any of the accusations. In addition, the until now producer has told Polygon that the departure of him is because he wants to take a free time after five years of service .

In addition to his participation in the first overwatch, Sonny was also responsible for the supervision of the Overwatch 2 project, and this departure is a strong blow for the franchise after he also left Jeff Kaplan, director of OW, in April of this year .

The US Stock Exchange and Values ​​Commission investigates Activision Blizzard and its legal director abandons the company

On September 20, the United States Stock Exchange Commission (sec) has begun to investigate Blizzard as a result of the lawsuit filed by the State of California. This US government agency is responsible for enforcing federal securities laws and regulating their industry, and has the duty to protect shareholders and guarantee the order of markets. The institution has quoted Bobby Kotick and other executives to appear on the facts and their measures: We have done and are making a large number of important changes to improve our policies and procedures, in order to guarantee that there is no space in our company For discrimination, harassment or inequalities of any kind, said Activision Blizzard representative to The Wall Street Journal.

Given this, the response of the company s CEO has not been suggested, which in a statement claimed to be cooperating with the authorities. There is absolutely no place in our company for discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment of any kind. The company is committed to addressing all workplace problems directly and quickly, Kotick said.

Almost at the same time we learned the news of the departure of the company of Claire Hart, Advisor and Director of the Legal Department of Activision Blizzard. The last three years have been filled with unexpected turns and surprises but I am honored to have worked and have met so much incredible people in Blizzard and around the Activision Blizzard businesses, Hart wrote on his Linkedn account.

Employees interpose a complaint against the company for intimidation and union repression

On September 10, Activision Blizzard employees decided to file a new demand against the Company, in this case under the ABETTERABK Workers Association with the help of the National Organization Communications Workers of America. In it, they have accused the company to violate the National Labor Relations Act by preventing them from forming a union through intimidation, thus lacking a federal law. Depending on demand, the Company is also threatening employees so that they do not talk about their salary, working hours and working conditions with the researchers of the California Department of Employment and Housing.

The Activision Blizzard directive is using bullying to prevent their employees from exercising their trade union rights and joined to request a better and diverse workplace, read the statement published by Abetterabk. It is our right as workers to organize us to demand a workplace free of abuse, discrimination and work harassment, as indicated by federal labor laws.

The state of California accuses Blizzard to destroy evidence and interfere in research

On August 23, the State of California updated the demand that filed against Activision Blizzard . Of course, it was not to withdraw any of the points of demand, but to expand it by adding abuse supposedly suffered by temporary workers, while accusing the Department of Human Resources to destroy evidence and hamper research.

As explained by the document published by Axios, the lawsuit had passed only full-time employees to which the plaintiff group has become called workers replacing employees , in order to include people with contracts Temporary or who do not have full journey, which covers the same problems that came from the beginning: salary discrimination, work harassment and inequality in terms of opportunities.

On the interference in the investigation, the report notes that the company was using NDA clauses to force workers to speak with their law firm before being able to be interrogated by the California Department of Employment. Regarding the elimination of evidence, they point out that documents related to research and plaintiffs have been destroyed by human resources personnel .

Three Senior Developers of Diablo 4 and Wow are dismissed

The Exodus of Employees continues, and is that the departure of the company of three more employees has been confirmed: Luis Barriga, director of Diablo 4; Jesse McCree, designer of levels of the same game; And Jonathan Lecraft, designer of World of Warcraft are no longer in the company, according to a new Kotaku report. In the midst of all the controversies after the demand for harassment, it is expected that these layoffs have to do with it, as Blizzard has given to understand in a statement for IGN: We already have a deep and talented list of developers and The new corresponding leaders have been assigned. We trust our ability to continue progress, provide incredible experiences to our players and move forward to ensure a safe and productive work environment for all.

According to the Web, both MCCREE and Lecraft were linked to the Cosby Suite, which revealed that some of its developers met this hotel room to drink alcohol and make sexual comments about women».

Blizzard shareholders criticize the company s response to accusations

SOC INVESTMENT GROUP, one of the main shareholders of Activision Blizzard, published on August 5 a letter to the Independent Director of the company in which he indicated that the response of the company to the recent accusations do not go far far . SOC has already recognized the improvement in the response of Bobby Kotick, who knew how to see that the initial replica of the company was frankly deaf , but also believe that the statements did not correctly addressed the deep and widespread problem of equality, The inclusion and management of human capital in the company ».

The letter continued to criticize three main points that Activision Blizzard is not approaching correctly, beginning with the process of hiring new executives: No changes have been announced that alter the current process to cover the vacancies, either in the Board of Directors or in High Management ». Second, they also mention the lack of action of the company with respect to the remuneration of executives, where no changes have been announced . Finally, they also criticize the Kotick announcement on the hiring of the Wilmerhale law firm to review the company s policies and procedures, where they say that this action is deficient in several senses .

The direct consequences of demand

First, Activision Blizzard had to face an extra demand: that of his own investors. The Rights Company of Investors Rosen Law Firm has filed a collective action against the company on behalf of the investors of the study, which alleges that during the last 5 years the shareholders were deceived by the company. This is because Activision did not reveal the problems with their work culture, although during the last two years an active investigation was being carried out by the Department of Housing and Fair Employment of California. Among the facts that investors say they were hidden by the company, are discrimination against women and ethnic minority employees , the generalized culture of harassment, discrimination and reprisals would result in serious deterioration in operations of Activision Blizzard »; And, as a result of the above, the company was n higher risk of scrutiny and regulatory and legal compliance, including which it would have an important adverse effect.

The most recent news in regards to demand is the march of some of the sponsors of the Overwatch League, the professional league of electronic sports dedicated to the game. Coca-Cola, Kellogg s, State Farm and T-Mobile, the four major advertisers of the competition, have decided to withdraw their campaigns. The departure of Kellogg s will be final, while in the case of the remaining three have paused the sponsorship agreement waiting to make a decision in the future, probably depending on how the course of the demand to Activision Blizzard is developed.

The President and the Head of Hrr.hh. Blizzard leave the company

At the beginning of August, a couple of weeks after demand was filled out, there were two important outputs within the company. The first and most important is that of the President of Blizzard, J. Allen Brack, who according to the official statement of the company by Daniel Allegre, left his position to seek new opportunities in the midst of all the controversies with Activision Blizzard and After declaring unaware of all cases of systematic harassment. This march resulted in the appointment of Jen Oneal (Exdirector of Vicarius Visions) and Mike Ybarra (vice president of Xbox until 2019) as new crews, and to Allegre are those indicated to make sure that Blizzard is the safest and cozy workplace For women and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or background.

On the same day, the march of Jesse Meschuk was also confirmed, which held the most important position within the Human Resources Department after 12 years working on it. According to a report published by Axios, this division had helped to cover up the cases of harassment and toxic behaviors in the jobs, and undermine the complaints of employees.

The answers to the demand from other companies

Accusations against Activision Blizzard also rekindled the case of Ubisoft, and is that one year before an investigation uncovered hundreds of cases of harassment within the company. In May of this year, Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, explained how the company s culture had changed before the toxic behaviors that were given in the work environment, but many employees do not feel that the company would really have changed since last summer , since the dynamics that led to harassment situations were still maintained. For this reason, and taking advantage of Blizzard employees, 500 Ubisoft workers decided to sign a letter in complaint of the empty promises of their company and in solidarity with those affected by Activision Blizzard, shortly after the French union Solidaires Informatique interposed a lawsuit against Ubisoft for institutional sexual harassment, pointing directly to Guillemot.

We listen to you and we want to declare our solidarity with you. During the last week, the videogame industry has been shaken by revelations that too many of us have already knew for a long time. Revelations that, a year ago, many were listening about Ubisoft. It is clear, by the frequency of these reports, that there is an abusive culture very deeply rooted within the industry. It should not be a surprise for anyone: employees, executives, journalists or fans who have done these terrible acts are going ahead. It s time to stop surprising us. We have to demand that real measures be taken to prevent them, the letter of employees said.

At Strauss Zenick, CEO of Take-Two Interactive, was also asked about the case of Activision Blizzard during the presentation of the results of the first quarter of fiscal year 2022. Our safer strategy has always been to be the most creative company, more Innovative and more efficient business. Diversity is key to our success and we need to have various perspectives and diverse voices to create that quality, said Zelnick. In our company we will not tolerate harassment, discrimination or bad behavior of any kind. I have never done it ». I do not know how Zelnick will see it, but it is well known the case of the culture of the crunch within its subsidiary Rockstar Games, and is that during the development of Red Dead Redemption 2 we could make weeks of more than 100 hours of work by Of employees.

Thousands of employees sign a petition condemning Activision Blizzard s response and start a strike

Faced with the response of Frances Townsend, many of the employees of the company felt it as abhorrent and insulting , and decided to sign a petition towards Activision Blizzard. The Charter was signed by more than 2,000 workers (both current and previous, which implies more than 20% of the 9,500 that the company had at the end of last year) as a sample of rejection of the company s position versus demand, And many of them also took part pointing to the company through their social networks.

We support all our friends, teammates and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community, who have experienced abuse or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stay on the sidelines and we will not give up until the company we love is a place of work that we can all be proud to be part of it again. We will be the change, said the letter.

My thoughts about the harassment lawsuit filed against Activision-Blizzard. Two days later, Activision Blizzard workers set out to take direct action. On Wednesday, July 28, hundreds of employees made a strike and decided to make a demonstration in front of the company s headquarters in Irvine, California, in response to mismanagement against accusations due to sexual harassment. However, as indicated from Bloomberg, Blizzard said that he would continue to remunerate employees during the strike, which in a way limits Protestants in his attempt to protest when he was supported by the company itself.

Activision Blizzard s response to demand

Although at first they remained silent after receiving demand, the first response came a couple of days after the hand of Frances Townsend, Activision Blizzard communication director, who described these accusations as objectively incorrect and who are stories that are Out of context », through an email representing the executive. Townsend insisted that demand presents a distorted and false image of the company and that some of the events mentioned happened a decade ago . Time later we have known that, on the same day she wrote this email and had a call to listen to her stories of her, she Townsend left the Women S Network of Activision Blizzard, the network of women s women.

The answers also joined Mike Morhaime, co-founder of Blizzard and Exfirector Executive of the company (in Dreamhaven since September 2020), which declared to be embarrassed by the situation, implying that he had no knowledge about the facts that are mentioned. I feel as if everything he thought he defended, he had erased. And what is worse, real people have been damaged and some women have had terrible experiences. I was in Blizzard for 28 years and, during that time, I hardly strive to create an environment that was safe and welcoming for people of all genres and provenances, said Morhaime. He also took the opportunity to mention the important role of the great names of the industry when dealing with these problems: I wanted to thank the women who had horrible experiences. I hear you, I believe you and I regret having disappointed. I want to hear your stories, if you are willing to share them. As a leader in our industry, I can and use my influence to help boost a positive change and combat misogyny, discrimination and harassment whenever you can.

Probably later than it was due, although only three days after the lawsuit, came the answer of J. Allen Back, which at that time was the President of the Company, also through an email filtered by Forbes. In it he declared that the bro culture is something he hates, and that the accusations are extremely worrying . He also made it clear that it seemed unacceptable that any person in the company faces discrimination or harassment and that everyone should feel safe working with the company. As in the rest of the cases, the president implied that he was not aware that the facts mentioned in demand were happening, and it is not clear about starting to make changes to modify the company s dynamics.

The experiences of Activision Blizzard employees (this point deals with cases of sexual harassment explicitly)

There are many stories for not sleeping that they have left since demand has been made public. A week later, Tony Ray Nixon, one of the employees of the company, pleaded guilty to placing a camera in the bathroom of women under the tap, so that point to the toilet . According to court documents, the police learned that Activision Blizzard had a problem when a male employee was presented in the lobby of the police department on August 23, 2018. The employee, who shows himself anonymous in the court documents, he said That he received an email from human resources in which he was informed that an unauthorized monitoring device had been installed in the unisex baths and that Activision was doing an internal investigation ».

Another report from IGN also revealed information about other abuse and harassment behaviors by the company s employees. Women used to avoid Blizzard s events that had alcoholic beverages by means because they were subjected inappropriate touches in the chest area , which ended up in a limitation of two drinks at these company events from 2018. Also They revealed that, in one room of the dedicated offices so that mothers breastfeed their babies, men entered the breastfeeding room and there was no way to close the door, they just looked and the women had to shout them to leave . This ended also where they had to put locks on the doors (some solutions that, obviously, did not arrange the structural problems of the company).

Another of the biggest cases that have come out is that of the Cosby Suite . Alex Afrasiabi, one of the two names mentioned directly on demand (the other was the president of Blizzard, J. Allen Brack) and who has worked since 2004 at World of Warcraft, is the company worker who committed The abuses of this case. During an event of the Afrasiabi company he hit the employees, he told them that he wanted to marry them, he was trying to kiss them and hugged them, says the complaint. Afrasiabi was as well known to participate in the harassment of women who the suite of him was nicknamed as Suite Cosby in honor of the alleged violator Bill Cosby, they said from Kotaku. However, as reported by some ancient employees of the company from Bloomberg, the nickname referred to how the carpet of the room resembled Cosby, and was before the public resurgence of accusations of sexual assault against the comedian . This led the famous image in which many employees, including Afrasiabi itself, posed with a real portrait of Bill Cosby.

Jason Schreier, who was actively covering this case during the first weeks, had the opportunity to speak with more than 50 current and previous employees in an interview where they count how the company fostered sexual harassment, the stars of rock intocable and flagrant discrimination of Systematic way You can read the full article here.


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