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Activision Blizzard Hit with Federal Labor Board Complaint

The Communications Workers of America has filed a labor complaint against Activision Blizzard .
The Communications Workers of America has filed a labor complaint against Activision Blizzard . / Photo courtesy of Activision Blizzard

A union has filed a federal labor board complaint against Activision Blizzard, accusing the company of violating federal labor law through coercive rules, actions, and statements.

The complaint, lodged with the US National Labor Relations Board on Sept. 10 by the Communications Workers of America, alleges that Activision Blizzard "threatened employees that they cannot talk about or communicate about wages, hours and working conditions," per Bloomberg. It also says Activision told staff they couldn't discuss ongoing investigations, threatened or disciplined employees because of their activism, deployed surveillance and interrogations targeting legally protected activism, and maintained a social media policy that violated workers' rights.

This complaint deepens the ongoing labor relations crisis at Activision Blizzard spurred by an explosive California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit alleging a culture of mistreatment and harassment at the company.

Its response to that lawsuit prompted outrage among employees, thousands of which signed a letter condemning the corporate line. Employees also staged a walkout in protest and formed an impromptu organization called A Better Activision Blizzard King working to improve conditions at the company. A Better ABK filed the complaint in partnership with the CWA.

Following the complaint, the procedure dictates the NLRB's regional office investigate the claims. If they're found to have merit, and the involved parties opt not to settle, the agency's general counsel can prosecute the case. The agency can force Activision Blizzard to post notices and reversals of policies or punishments, but cannot impose punishment for the company itself.

Fallout from the lawsuit shows no sign of slowing down at Activision Blizzard, as head of people Claudine Naughton announced plans to leave the company Tuesday. An amendment to the DFEH lawsuit accused Activision Blizzard's HR department of incriminating activity including document shredding.

Blizzard Entertainment senior people officer Jesse Meschuk has also been ousted from the company, as has Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, creating a trend of high profile departures in the wake of the DFEH lawsuit.

Activision Blizzard denied that the recent lawsuit had a hand in Naughton's exit. She will be replaced by former Walt Disney Company HR executive Julie Hodges.