Blizzard Facing Lawsuit Due to ”Frat Boy” Culture

Teodora Dobrilova
Teodora Dobrilova

Updated · Feb 21, 2022

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On the 20th of July, California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard after multiple female employees complain about sexual harassment, discrimination, and unequal pay.

The Allegations

DFEH filed a lawsuit on the 20th of July against the gaming behemoth - female employees were subjected to sexual harassment and also discrimination.

"DFEH alleges that women were subjected to constant sexual harassment, including groping, comments, and advances. The lawsuit also alleges that the company's executives and human resources personnel knew of the harassment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful conduct, and instead retaliated against women who complained," the press release said.

A Reddit user posted a video with a firsthand account about the harassment in Blizzard. The footage makes it clear that while females are the prime victims of unwanted sexual advances and comments, males also suffer. J.Allen Brack, Blizzard’s president, and a few of the top executives apparently knew about the issues and were enabling the behavior.

The Investigation

DFEH’s investigation found that women make just 20% of Blizzard’s employees. Moreover, very few of the females ever got top positions. The latter, however, is a worldwide problem - less than 20% of women get leadership roles in the tech industry.

The report said that women that do get promoted in Blizzard, earn less money than males in the same spots.

Women of color were more often victims of discrimination.

People named Alex Afrasiabi, the former senior creative director of World of Warcraft, a “top harasser”: 

“During a company event (an annual convention called Blizz Con) Afrasiabi would hit on female employees, telling them he wanted to marry them, attempting to kiss them, and putting his arms around them. This was in plain view of other male employees, including supervisors, who had to intervene and pull him off female employees.”

DFEH described the company culture as similar to a “frat house”.

Blizzard’s Response

Activision Blizzard called the report “distorted, and in many cases false” and denied the allegations. The response, however, received a huge backlash.

As a result, the company’s CEO Bobby Kotick, addressed the issue in a note saying: “Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone-deaf. It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.”

He also outlined the actions the company is taking:

  • Employee Support
  • Listening Sessions
  • Personnel Changes
  • Hiring Practices
  • In-game Changes

The issue doesn’t only concern Blizzard’s employees, however.

The global statistics are dire. Female employees report roughly 30,000 sexual assaults on the job. A background check can solve some of the issues.

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Teodora Dobrilova

Teodora Dobrilova

Teodora devoted her whole life to words – reading, writing and trying to be original on social media. She got certified in digital marketing but still feels she’s not cool enough to be an influencer. (We all disagree – she influences the team pretty well.) She finished a master’s degree focused in Literature, Publishing, Mass Media. Her hobbies include traveling, and reading. Teddy hopes that yoga will be the thing to finally teach her some patience and show her the path toward world domination. Maybe modern tech can also help her with that.

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