California sues Blizzard for “sex harassment culture”

The California Department of Employment and Housing, DFEH, has sued Blizzard Entertainment and parent company Activision Blizzard, claiming the companies have created a culture of “constant sex harassment” and gender discrimination, reports The Verge.

Within a few hours after the news was out, several women who work or have worked at the company had come forward and confirmed the information. Some have revealed that they are included as anonymous persons in the preliminary investigation.

According to DFEH, all female employees they spoke to described the workplace as working in a “frat house” (housing shared by male university students), where male employees often drank at work and openly harassed and abused female colleagues.

Employees who have worked with World of Warcraft have described how male employees and managers have flirted with female colleagues, joked about rape and generally behaved in a derogatory manner towards women. A manager is said to have suggested that a male employee should “buy a prostitute” to cure his depression.

Several high-ranking executives are named in the lawsuit, including Blizzard’s chairman J. Allen Brack and World of Warcraft’s former creative director Alex Afrasiabi. The latter is said to have been so infamous within the company that his office was given a nickname based on Bill Cosby.

The lawsuit also mentions a female employee who took her own life while on a business trip with her male boss. She had been subjected to constant harassment and according to the atmosphere, male colleagues had, among other things, sent around a nude photo during a Christmas party.

In addition to all allegations of institutionalized sexual harassment, there are allegations of gender discrimination. Among other things, female employees are said to have been denied promotions because they “may become pregnant and discover that they like being a mother”.