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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Activision Blizzard CEO denies tradition of harassment and blames unions for firm issues

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In 2021, the state of California sued Activision Blizzard alleging that the online game writer fostered a pervasive tradition of harassment going again years. Particulars within the go well with spoke of “dice crawls” the place male workers would get drunk and stroll across the office subjecting feminine workers to inappropriate conduct. It alleged that male workers would pawn off duties to their feminine co-workers, how girls of coloration have been handed up for alternatives given to much less tenured employees, and the way a senior World of Warcraft developer was so notorious for his harassment of girls that his office was nicknamed the “Cosby suite.”

However information of the go well with was simply the opening salvo in what would develop into a battery of reporting, documenting the sorts of harassment that went on at Activision Blizzard. Present and former workers shared their tales, together with how a lady was demoted for allegedly reporting her harasser, how a nursing mom had her breast milk stolen from firm fridges, and the way one employee’s sexual harassment led to their death by suicide.

Amidst that reporting, The Wall Avenue Journal launched its personal report accusing Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick of knowing about, ignoring, and, in some cases, perpetrating harassment of his employees.

Kotick has apologized for some allegations, together with one the place he left a voicemail threatening to have his assistant killed, however denied others.

And in a brand new interview with Variety, Kotick additional denied that Activision Blizzard had any pervasive points with abuse. As a substitute, he blamed labor organizers for the corporate’s issues.

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“We’ve had each attainable type of investigation finished. And we didn’t have a systemic subject with harassment — ever,” he stated within the interview. “However what we did have was a really aggressive labor motion working onerous to attempt to destabilize the corporate.”

Kotick described the reporting finished on worker harassment and abuse at Activision Blizzard as “mischaracterizations” whereas asserting that the corporate has a comparatively low share of harassment complaints for its 17,000 workers. A transparency report, launched Wednesday, outlined the corporate’s standing in relation to a number of said objectives like rising the variety of girls it employs and the variety of harassment claims it acquired and acted upon. In keeping with the report, the corporate investigated 116 complaints and was in a position to substantiate 31 of them, leading to some sort of motion. Nevertheless the report seems to omit the entire variety of claims it acquired.

We additionally know that Activision Blizzard agreed to pay the Safety and Trade Fee $35 million after it determined that the company did not have proper reporting structures in place. Activision Blizzard additionally settled its suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $18 million — a settlement the state of California tried and failed to dam, citing issues that it might hinder its personal case, and lawyer Lisa Bloom, identified for litigating high-profile harassment {cases} and counsel for a Blizzard worker, referred to as “woefully inadequate.”

Whereas Kotick was fast responsible unions for most of the firm’s personnel points, he additionally claimed to assist unions, stating that he’s not anti-union as a result of he’s a member of a union himself — becoming a member of SAG-AFTRA for his look in Moneyball — and due to his mom.

“I’ve a mom who was a trainer. I’ve no aversion to a union,” he stated. “What I do have an aversion to is a union that doesn’t play by the principles.”

Talking of “enjoying by the principles,” Activision Blizzard has had a number of unfair labor follow complaints filed towards it. The Nationwide Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has discovered benefit in a number of of those complaints, including illegal surveillance, threatening employees’ protected rights, and illegally withholding compensation due to union exercise.

Morale at Activision Blizzard has taken a beating these final two years, and workers have responded to all of the information with walkouts, demands for Kotick’s resignation, organizing for better treatment, and winning historic victories for the online game labor motion in North America. Proper now, Activision Blizzard is within the midst of a sale to Microsoft — a sale that was thought would possibly save the company from its sordid present and Kotick himself via golden parachute. Now that the deal has been credibly threatened by regulators, it looks as if Kotick is deploying a brand new technique to restore his and his firm’s repute — by blaming everybody however himself.



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