Former female employee of Activision Blizzard Inc. sued the company claiming the game maker has a “massive sexual harassment problem”. Further demanding CEO Bobby Kotick be fired for letting misconduct go unchecked.
The plaintiff, going by the pseudonym Jane Doe, sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday, alleging she'd been subjected to sexual harassment and battery, retaliation and a hostile work environment in violation of the Golden State's Fair Employment and Housing Act.
"Activision Blizzard is a massive video game company with a massive sexual harassment problem," the complaint said.
Doe started at the company as a senior administrative assistant in 2017. The company looked the other way even though she complained several times to human resources and even an executive about sexual harassment and retaliation she faced on the job, she alleged.
Finally, in December 2021, she gave a press conference and spoke publicly about her allegations, she said. In response, the company denied her a promotion to executive assistant, sent out an email saying she'd been terminated and then hired two new people to do her job, Doe said.
The suit against the company behind games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft also named subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment as well as several individuals as defendants. In her prayer for relief, Doe asked that Kotick be fired for cause, that the company waive its arbitration requirement and that it implement a "rotating HR" office to avoid conflicts of interest.
Activision Blizzard is currently facing lawsuits and investigations from multiple government agencies and individuals, including shareholders. An $18 million settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is near approval, a federal judge said this week.
And earlier in March, the parents of an Activision Publishing employee who killed herself at a company retreat sued in California state court, alleging the video game maker's failure to prevent her from being sexually harassed was a "substantial factor" in her death.
All of this is happening in the wake of news that Microsoft agreed to buy the company for nearly $69 billion.
Out to lunch with co-workers on her first day of work, Doe was pressured to take many tequila shots and tell everyone an "embarrassing secret," she said in her complaint.
She was also pressured to play a game with co-workers where they made crude sexual jokes, and at a meal out, one of her supervisors said to her, "Wow, you can fit that big burger in your mouth, impressive!" according to the complaint.
Once at a company event, that supervisor gave Doe his hotel room key, telling her he wouldn't use the room, and she woke up naked, she alleged.
Another time, as she rode in a convertible with him, he "told her that her breasts were going to get a nice tan" and that "he said he wished that his wife kept herself up like Ms. Doe does," according to the complaint.
Men at the company grazed her breasts, hugged her from behind and touched her lap, and a female superior seemingly invited her to a threesome with her partner, Doe alleged. After Doe reported some of the behavior to human resources in August 2018, she overheard the supervisor say that he "despised" her, using an expletive, according to the complaint.
"It's like I broke up with her, and now she's the psycho ex-girlfriend," he allegedly said, later adding, "I wish I could be a total dick to [Ms. Doe] but I know I legally can't."
Doe's lawyer, Lisa Bloom of The Bloom Firm, said in a phone interview Thursday that she currently represents eight women with similar claims against Activision and added, "I have more calling me all the time."
"I think this is the first of multiple lawsuits that we will be filing," Bloom said. "It's so offensive to me that this situation is allowed to endure."