Activision Blizzard Hit With Sexual Harassment Suit From Current Employee

Activision Blizzard has been sued by a current employee who allegedly experienced sexual harassment and was retaliated against for speaking out.
Activision Blizzard has been sued by a current employee who allegedly experienced sexual harassment and was retaliated against for speaking out. / Activision Blizzard

A current Activision Blizzard employee is suing the video game company after allegedly experiencing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, as well as being retaliated against for speaking out.

As reported by Bloomberg Law on Wednesday, the new lawsuit was filed by attorney Lisa Bloom in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of an Activision Blizzard worker referred to as "Jane Doe."

"We just filed a new sexual harassment and retaliation against Activision Blizzard," Bloom said on Twitter Thursday. "Despite EEOC, FEHA and SEC investigations and an internal 'mea culpa,' the victims continue to be ignored. We demand justice and the ouster of CEO Bobby Kotick."

According to the complaint, the employee started working at Activision Blizzard in October 2017 as a senior administrative assistant in the IT department and was subjected to harassment and gender discrimination "immediately."

One incident referred to in the lawsuit describes Doe's experience with an "initiation lunch" on her first day on the job that seemingly served just as a precursor of the events to come, with Activision Blizzard executives pressuring Doe to drink alcohol and share "an embarrassing secret to everyone."

A point similarly noted by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing's lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard back in July 2021, Doe later describes how she and other female employees were often pressured to participate in office "cube crawls" where male colleagues would drink copious amounts of alcohol and navigate their way through various cubicles in the office to subject women to sexual comments and groping.

"For years, Activision Blizzard’s open ‘frat boy’ environment fostered rampant sexism, harassment and discrimination with 700 reported incidents occurring under CEO Robert Kotick’s watch," the lawsuit says. "Examples include excessive workplace drinking which fostered unwanted sexual advances to female employees, banter about male employees’ sexual encounters, rape jokes and groping of female employees’ breasts and bodies. The sexual misconduct was often committed by executives and in the presence of HR."

The lawsuit mentions that around July 2018, Doe started to dress more conservatively in hopes of avoiding getting sexually harassed and tried to distance herself from the offsite leadership dinners.

Additionally, Doe allegedly complained to the company's HR on multiple occasions, to which Activision Blizzard retaliated by demoting her, declining her applications for open positions in other departments later offered to "less-deserving employees" and sending around a false email that she had been fired.

On one occasion in August 2018, the complaint mentions that HR responded to her sexual misconduct complaints with it's "just her leadership being nice and trying to be friends with her," as well as to "keep all of her issues, concerns, recordings or emails to herself because they could be very damaging to Activision Blizzard."

Ultimately, the suit seeks various court orders including requiring Activision to implement a "rotating human resources department to avoid conflicts of interest with management," retain a "truly neutral investigation firm" for all pending and future sexual harassment complaints and to fire CEO Bobby Kotick.

Activision Blizzard, which is set to be purchased by Microsoft in a $68.7 billion deal, remains to be investigated by the California DFEH and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a result of numerous harassment and misconduct allegations.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Activision Blizzard's $18 million sexual harassment and workplace misconduct settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is likely to be approved by the presiding judge.

Kotick is reportedly expected to leave the company once the Microsoft deal closes.