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Activision Blizzard Is Sued by California Over Workplace Culture

Activision Blizzard Is Sued by California Over Workplace Culture

The lawsuit says women at the gaming company were paid less and discriminated against, and it described a culture of sexual harassment.A California state agency is suing Activision Blizzard, the video game maker that produces Call of Duty, over claims of sexual harassment and discrimination.After a two-year investigation, the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court that Activision fostered a “‘frat boy’ workplace culture.” Executives sexually harassed women, the agency said, and male employees openly joked about rape and drank alcohol while engaging in “inappropriate behavior” toward women at their cubicles during events known as “cube crawls.”The lawsuit added that women were routinely paid less than men for similar work and were less likely to be promoted.Activision’s workplace “is a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women,” the agency wrote. “Female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, including having to continually fend off unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male co-workers and supervisors and being groped at the ‘cube crawls’ and other company events.”In one case, the lawsuit said, a female employee died by suicide during a business trip, as a result of her sexual relationship with her male supervisor. Before her death, male colleagues allegedly shared explicit photos of the woman, the lawsuit said.The lawsuit, which was reported earlier by Bloomberg Law, said the company’s executives and human resources department failed to address misconduct when they were informed of it.In a statement, Activision said the “picture D.F.E.H. paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today,” adding that the company tries to pay employees fairly and has worked to address its culture and improve diversity in recent years. Activision employees for years have undergone anti-harassment training, and the company said it had created a confidential reporting hotline and team that investigates employee concerns, among other changes.“There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind,” Activision wrote. “In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.”The company said California had failed to properly discuss the accusations with Activision before suing, and it chided the agency in particular for bringing up the employee suicide.“It is this type of irresponsible behavior from unaccountable state bureaucrats that are driving many of the state’s best businesses out of California,” Activision wrote.The state employment agency declined to comment. It said in the lawsuit that it wanted Activision to compensate employees for unpaid wages, provide further recompense and pay punitive damages.Activision, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif., and is worth about $70 billion, has nearly 10,000 employees. The company has faced criticism from its workers over wage disparities, especially as shareholders narrowly approved a $155 million pay package for the chief executive, Bobby Kotick, in June, making him one of the country’s highest-paid top executives.Accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination are far from uncommon in the gaming industry, where game studios’ work forces, especially at the executive level, remain predominantly white and male. Last summer, dozens of women spoke out against such behavior, accusing people at various companies of misconduct — including at Activision and the French publisher Ubisoft — and prompting more calls for reform. The fair employment agency has also pursued legal action against Riot Games, the League of Legends game maker, accusing it of sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

Cancer Stricken Exec Laid Off After Filing EEOC Charge Heads To Trial

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By Joy Waltemath and Brandi O. Brown, J.D. — A former company VP who within four years after he was diagnosed with cancer was denied two yearly bonuses and equity awards and was laid off after filing an EEOC charge, will be allowed to take many of his claims to a jury after a ruling by a federal […]

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Federal Contractor Rule Prohibits LBGT Discrimination

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Federal Contractor Rule Prohibits LBGT Discrimination

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a new rule implementing an executive order signed by President Obama in July that prohibits discrimination by federal contractors on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity. July’s executive order was the first federal action ensuring LGBT workplace equality in the private sector. Currently 18 states, the […]

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Are You Unemployed Over 55? Grey Haired And 55 Or Older Need Not Apply

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Are You Unemployed Over 55? Grey Haired And 55 Or Older Need Not Apply

By R.W. GREENE— To judge from unemployment rates, you might think it’s not too hard to pull off the trick of finding a job while having grey hair and being 55 or older. After all, the unemployment rate last year for people aged 55 and older stood at 6%. That number has even improved slightly […]

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Equal Pay Day

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Equal Pay Day

When President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law in 1963, women were earning an average of 59 cents on the dollar compared to men. While women hold nearly half of today’s jobs, and their earnings account for a significant portion of the household income that sustains the financial wellbeing of their families, they […]

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Equal Pay Day: Association Publishes Latest Analysis Of The Gender Pay Gap

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Equal Pay Day: Association Publishes Latest Analysis Of The Gender Pay Gap

A must-read for Equal Pay Day, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) has  published its annual pay gap analysis, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, complete with charts on the gender pay gap broken down by state, race/ethnicity, education, and age. The analysis shows that one of the widest pay gap disparities is […]

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Equal Pay Day 2013 Events In The U.S., Internationally And Online

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Equal Pay Day 2013 Events In The U.S., Internationally And Online

Equal Pay Day 2013 Events In The U.S., Overseas And Online From the National Committee on Pay Equity: The National Women’s Law Center is hosting a blog carnival all day on Equal Pay Day and a tweetchat at 1 pm (ET), with hashtag #TalkPay. This June will mark 50 years since President Kennedy signed the Equal […]

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EEOC: Texas Burger King Franchisee Pays $25,000 For Skirting Religious Issues

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EEOC: Texas Burger King Franchisee Pays $25,000 For Skirting Religious Issues

Dallas-based Fries Restaurant Management, which operates numerous Burger King franchises in Texas, will pay a former employee $25,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 3:12-CV-3169-M), Ashanti McShan, a member of the Christian Pentecostal Church, adheres to an interpretation […]

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India Supports Gender Equality But Gives Men Edge In Jobs, Education

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India Supports Gender Equality But Gives Men Edge In Jobs, Education

By MICHAEL REMEZ, Senior Writer, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press— The recent gang rape and killing of a young woman in New Delhi – and the subsequent protests – have focused worldwide attention on gender issues in India. A 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey that examined attitudes about gender around the […]

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EEOC Wins Big Settlements In Recent Discrimination And Racial Harassment Cases

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EEOC Wins Big Settlements In Recent Discrimination And Racial Harassment Cases

Among the horror stories are blatantly racist bosses, nooses hanging in the workplace, a county prosecutor turned workplace persecutor and systematic national origin discrimination. In the past few months, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC, has handled several cases involving severe racial harassment. The cases include a $2.75 million settlement against an environmental clean […]

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