Activision Blizzard lawsuit expands for QA and customer service contractors

Activision Blizzard

August 25, 2021 Activision Blizzard has responded, denying claims that it has “destroyed information by shredding documents”.

Activision Blizzard is being sued by California following a two-year investigation from the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleges years of discrimination and harassment at the company. Now, the suit is being expanded to cover contract workers – not just full-time employees – and the DFEH argues that Activision Blizzard further violated California law by destroying documents that would have aided the investigation. The company has denied the claim, and you can read its full statement below.

The word ’employees’ has been changed to ‘workers’ throughout the document, as Axios reports. The suit now asks for equal employment opportunity projects to “exist for employees and contingent or temporary workers”.

This comes after a report from Polygon earlier this month, in which contracted QA and customer service workers at Activision Blizzard said they were “crushed” by toxic work conditions at the company. Axios separately provides quotes from other Activision Blizzard contractors. One says “We suffer from stress. We suffer physical ailments. We are overworked and underpaid across the board.”

The addition to the lawsuit also accuses Activision Blizzard of withholding information related to the DFEH investigation, including documents “related to compensation and pay equity analyses”. The DFEH says Activision Blizzard refused to provide those documents, “asserting that they did not exist or that they were privileged and confidential because attorneys were involved in the receipt of complaints and the investigations.”

The DFEH says Activision Blizzard has also failed to maintain records as required by California law, “including but not limited to documents related to investigations,” which “were shredded by human resources personnel”.

We’ve reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment, and received the following statement:

“Throughout our engagement with the DFEH, we have complied with every proper request in support of its review even as we had been implementing reforms to ensure our workplaces are welcoming and safe for every employee. Those changes continue today, and include:

  • Several high-level personnel changes;
  • Revamped hiring and recruiting practices requiring diverse interview panels;
  • Greater transparency on pay equity;
  • Expanded and improved training and investigative capabilities for human resource and compliance staff;
  • Created investigation teams outside of business units to support greater independence;
  • Restructured divisions to support greater accountability;
  • Enhanced review processes to include evaluation of managers by employees;
  • Clear boundaries on workplace behaviour with a zero-tolerance approach to harassment and other actions that diminish or marginalize.

We strive to be a company that recognizes and celebrates the diverse talents and perspectives that lead to the creation of great, globally appealing entertainment. We have provided the DFEH with clear evidence that we do not have gender pay or promotion disparities. Our senior leadership is increasingly diverse, with a growing number of women in key leadership roles across the company.

We share DFEH’s goal of a safe, inclusive workplace that rewards employees equitably and are committed to setting an example that others can follow.

With regards to claims that we have destroyed information by shredding documents, those claims are not true. We took appropriate steps to preserve information relevant to the DFEH investigation.”

Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit filed in July by the state of California alleging years of discrimination and harassment. Since then, CEO Bobby Kotick has called the company’s initial response “tone deaf”, employees have staged a walkoutBlizzard president J Allen Brack has left, and the ABK Workers Alliance has demanded change at the company. The lawsuit is ongoing; follow the latest developments here.

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