A current employee of Activision Blizzard spoke publicly during a press conference today about the alleged “frat boy culture detrimental to women” she’s experienced at the company, as well as sexual harassment, retaliation that included demotion, and more.
First reported by Polygon, the employee in question, named Christine, spoke publicly during a press conference held outside of Blizzard Irvine’s headquarters. Christine was represented by famed lawyer Lisa Bloom, who has represented women in sexual harassment and sexual assault cases against defendants such as Bill O’Reilly and Bill Cosby. As noted by Polygon, though, Bloom also served as an advisor to Harvey Weinstein during his sexual assault case.
Christine has been at Blizzard for four years and while there, she said she's experienced unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate touching, and more.
“My name is Christine. I have worked at Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision for over four years. I still work here. I didn’t want to have to be up here doing this, but we need to make major changes at Activision Blizzard. Working at Blizzard was my dream job. When I first heard about all the talented people working at Blizzard, I knew that was somewhere I wanted to work and somewhere I could excel at my career. I was so excited to be a part of a community that seemed to care so much about their employees. Unfortunately, that didn't happen for me. Since I’ve been employed at Blizzard, I’ve been subjected to rude comments about my body, unwanted sexual advances, inappropriately touched, subjected to alcohol-infused team events and cube crawls, invited to have casual sex with my supervisors, and surrounded by a frat boy culture that’s detrimental to women.
When I complained to my supervisors, I was told they were just joking and that I should get over it. I began to remove myself from work events to avoid all the sexual comments and groping. I was told not to go to HR. I was told that the harassing men were just trying to be friends with me. I was told they did nothing wrong by law. After I complained of the sexual harassment, I was demoted. I was then further harassed and retaliated against. I’ve been denied my full profit sharing, denied shares at the company, and have had minimal raises in the four years I’ve been employed at Blizzard.
Fighting to keep my job in this toxic workplace culture has taken a severe toll on my mental health. I’m up here today because I want to fight for a safe work environment for employees. Blizzard has some amazing people that work for them, but we need to feel safe and supported by people in leadership roles, and hold people accountable for their actions. Thank you to everyone here today and to everyone fighting for a better Blizzard.”
Bloom outlined demands that she and Christine want Blizzard to meet during the press conference as well. They are listed below, in full:
“We demand a streamlined, fast, fair process for victims to resolve their legal claims with an expanded victim compensation fund. Don't make people like Christine file a lawsuit and fight for years against the big la la firms this company has hired to defend it. Set up a fund in excess of $100 million. Let victim advocates participate in setting the rules and let victims make cases to sympathetic claims administrators who have a history of caring about victims. Let’s get this done now.”
“We demand a real apology to Christine and the many other victims who have to live with the fallout from being sexually harassed, ignored, demeaned, and retaliated against every day.”
“We demand a review by a neutral third party – not a big law defense firm – of the career damage employees like Christine have endured, and then fix it. Give her the job she’s entitled to. Don’t hold her sexual harassment reporting against her. She should be praised for wanting to make the company better.”
Activision Blizzard gave Polygon the following statement when asked about today's press conference:
We appreciate the courage of our current and former employees in coming forward with reports of misconduct, and we are truly sorry for any victims of people whose conduct did not live up to our values. As we have continued to reaffirm in our recent communications, such conduct is not consistent with our standards, our expectations, and what the vast majority of our employees meet on a daily basis. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct, harassment or retaliation of any kind. We will not tolerate any behavior that is not aligned to our values and will hold employees accountable who fail to live up to them.
The company is committed to creating an environment we can all be proud of. We are in the process of implementing significant changes and improvements to the scope, structure and efficiency of our compliance and human resources teams, reporting systems, and transparency into our investigation process. The safety and support of our employees, especially those who have suffered, remains our top priority.
Wesley has been writing about games professionally for years. When he's not writing about games, he's playing them (hopefully). He desperately wants a PS5 patch for Bloodborne, too, and refuses to give up hope that one's on the way.