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California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing on Thursday sued Activision Blizzard and its subsidiaries, alleging the company fostered a “frat boy” culture that led to lower pay for female employees, sex and race discrimination, and sexual harassment.
According to the lawsuit, as an example of the effects of this toxic culture, a female worker killed herself on a company trip due to a sexual relationship she had with her male boss.
“All employers should ensure that their employees are being paid equally and take all steps to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation,” said dept director Kevin Kish in a statement [PDF]. “This is especially important for employers in male-dominated industries, such as technology and gaming.”
Activision Blizzard, the gaming behemoth forged in 2008 and based in Santa Monica, California, makes popular computer games such as Diablo, Call of Duty, and World of Warcraft, and runs online gaming service Battle.net.
Accusations of sexism, sexual harassment, and pay inequality have dogged the gaming industry for decades, as demonstrated recently by “gamergate” in 2014 and 2015 and harassment claims at UbiSoft in 2020. But as the “#MeToo” movement has shown, workplace hostility toward women extends far beyond electronic entertainment.
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson told The Register in an emailed statement the gaming biz takes these issues seriously and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) allegations don’t reflect its current workplace.
We note that one Blizzard executive identified in the complaint, “so known to engage in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the ‘Crosby Suite’ after alleged rapist Bill Crosby,” appears to have quietly left the company around June 2020. A DFEH spokesperson tentatively confirmed that this is a misspelling of “Cosby,”…