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California Expands Lawsuit Against Activision Blizzard, Alleges Company Interfered In Investigation

The suit now includes "temporary" and "contingent" workers.

Photo by Jae C. Hong via AP Photo

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has expanded its lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. The anti-discrimination suit now encompasses “contingent” and “temporary” workers, in addition to the full-time employees that were included in the initial filing, according to Axios. The labor agency also alleged Activision Blizzard interfered with its investigation at multiple points.

The DFEH claims Activision Blizzard attempted to hinder its investigation into the alleged mistreatment of women in the workplace by requiring employees to speak with the company before contacting the labor agency, Axios reports. The department also insists the gaming company impacted its investigation by engaging in a professional relationship with law firm WilmerHale and using employee non-disclosure agreements.

The DFEH also alleged, according to Axios, “documents related to investigations and complaints were shredded by human resource personnel.” The department claims this is illegal due to the investigation’s status.

The initial lawsuit, which was filed July 20, claimed Activision Blizzard fostered a “frat boy” work environment that served as a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.” Allegations levied by the DFEH include sexual harassment, retaliation, and unequal pay toward women at Activision Blizzard. The company responded defiantly, accusing the DFEH of citing “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past” in what it called an “inaccurate complaint.” The game publisher also said the agency’s “disgraceful and unprofessional” behavior was “an example of how they have conducted themselves throughout the course of their investigation.”

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has since called the initial response “tone deaf.” Kotick also claimed the company would add additional personnel to its compliance and employee relations teams, improve its hiring practices, and remove inappropriate in-game content from its properties, among other steps.

J. Allen Brack, the Blizzard Entertainment president at the time of the lawsuit’s filing, stepped down from his position Aug. 3 after Activision Blizzard employees orchestrated a walkout in late July. Brack was mentioned in the DFEH’s suit, as he allegedly did little to stop reported behavior in the workplace.

We Got This Covered reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment.

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Preston Byers