The suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of an employee referred to as “Jane Doe” by attorney Lisa Bloom, who, in December, hosted a press conference in front of Blizzard’s Irvine, Calif., office, to detail what she called an “alcohol-soaked culture of sexual harassment.”
“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.
According to the complaint, Doe began working at Activision Blizzard in 2017 as a senior administrative assistant to executives in the IT department.
On her first day of work, at an “initiation lunch,” Doe was pressured to take tequila shots, and was told by leadership that as part of her initiation she needed to share “an embarrassing secret” to everyone, the suit says.
Doe alleges she was often pressured to drink alcohol, to participate in “cube crawls” where women were subjected to sexual comments and groping, and to stay late after work to participate in a game called “Jackbox,” which Doe says she was told was to determine how well she’d fit in with the group. According to Doe, the game required each individual to suggest “creative answers” to various questions that were mostly sexual in nature.
The complaint alleges Doe started to dress “more conservatively” so she wouldn’t get sexually harassed, and that she tried to distance herself from offsite leadership dinners. She also complained about the excessive drinking and sexual advances made by her supervisors, but was told that “it was just her leadership being nice and trying to be friends with her,” the suit says.
Doe was instructed to keep her concerns to herself because they could be “damaging” to the company, and she began to face a hostile work environment due to her complaints, the suit alleges.
To escape the rampant sexism in the IT department, Doe applied to and was rejected from many other open positions in the company. According to the suit, Doe complained in writing to Blizzard’s then-president Allen J. Brack about the sexual harassment and retaliation. Only after that complaint was she offered a role in a different department, which she accepted despite the lower status and significant salary decrease.
Doe says she applied for an open executive assistant position in November 2021, but that after she spoke at a press conference in December 2021 about the sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation she had endured, her application was rejected.
The suit seeks various court orders including requiring Activision to implement a rotating human resources department to avoid conflicts of interest with management, to retain a neutral investigation firm, and to fire CEO Bobby Kotick, among other demands.
Causes of Action: Hostile work environment; quid pro quo; failure to prevent harassment; sexual favoritism; retaliation; sexual battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Relief: Damages; medical expenses; lost earnings; punitive damages; restraining order.
Response: Activision Blizzard didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.
Attorneys: The Bloom Firm represents Jane Doe.
The case is Doe v. Activision Blizzard Inc., Cal. Super. Ct., No. 22STCV10064, 3/23/22.
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