Something is rotten within Activision Blizzard; not only did the company foster a toxic workplace culture hellbent on harassment and discrimination of its female employees, but it would seem that it also illegally withheld and suppressed evidence crucial to the ongoing legal process. And while the company showed certain progress in addressing issues related to the original suit, it would seem that those efforts were only a front for another cover-up that the company was conducting internally.
According to Axios, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is expanding its initial lawsuit against Activision Blizzard by adding new elements to the existing lawsuit while simultaneously accusing the company of shredding documents related to staff complaints. The state has now filed an updated complaint against Activision Blizzard and broadened the language of its original lawsuit to include a contingent of temporary or contracted staff. In addition, the revised lawsuit now reads “workers” instead of “employees” in reference to harassment, gender discrimination, and other allegations.
Encompassing contracted staff in the updated lawsuit is noteworthy, especially after the “temporary workforce” revealed how they were treated within Activision Blizzard. Brutal overtime paired with little pay results in an overworked and underpaid workforce, especially in the company’s quality assurance and customer service departments. But what’s even more frightening is Activision Blizzard’s efforts to prevent their workers from taking legal action against the company.
In the new section of the lawsuit, DFEH (the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in California) says Activision Blizzard is hindering the Department’s efforts through non-disclosure agreements, requiring employees to talk to the company’s management and its legal representatives, the WilmerHale law firm, instead of state investigators. All complaints made to the company or its legal representatives are thus made confidential and are omitted from DFEH’s investigation by law.
The hiring of WilmerHale shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, given the law firm’s sterling reputation as a defender of the wealthy and connected. What makes things even more interesting is that WilmerHale has absolutely zero records of uncovering any wrongdoings made by their clients. This, paired with the enforcement of NDAs and alleged destruction of evidence within the company, prevents lead investigators from obtaining crucial evidence and in-depth knowledge about the full extent of harassment and abuse within the company, hindering the ongoing investigation.
The state of California initially filed the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in July over a “frat boy” workplace culture, which thrived on sexual harassment and discrimination against women. Following the company’s response, many of its employees organized strikes and walkouts, leading to the resignation of its CEO Allen Brack and another lawsuit filed by the company’s investors. The gaming community didn’t fall short on issuing their form of punishment – World of Warcraft players organized massive in-game protests and log-offs across all Activision Blizzard’s titles, including Call of Duty and Overwatch. In addition, a large portion of the gamers straight up quit playing Activision Blizzard games, which potentially dealt a killer blow to some of the titles, like World of Warcraft.