In brief: This week, employees of Activision Blizzard, with support from a national workers’ group, have filed a complaint against the company accusing it of worker intimidation and union-busting. This move comes after Activision Blizzard was hit with a lawsuit for its alleged discriminatory “frat boy” culture over the summer. The company also just hired two new senior executives, seemingly in response to the situation.
The Communication Workers of America (CWA) filed the complaint in support of the Activision Blizzard employees. The CWA released a statement claiming that since the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard has put its employees under strict surveillance and restricted their communications, both between each other and on social media.
“The employer has threatened employees that they cannot talk about or communicate about wages, hours and working conditions,” the statement reads. “[The company] maintained an overly broad social media policy; enforced the social media policy against employees who have engaged in protected concerted activity; threatened or disciplined employees on account of protected concerted activity; engaged in surveillance of employees engaged in protected concerted activity and engaged in interrogation of employees about protected concerted activity.”
In July, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Activision Blizzard for being host to a culture of widespread discrimination and sexual harassment of employees. The company disputed the claims, which drew criticism from across the games industry. Employees staged a walkout soon after.
In August, the president of Blizzard left the company, followed soon after by some game designers, including the director of the upcoming Diablo IV. Activision Blizzard games also lost sponsorships from companies like T-Mobile and Astro, and the US Army.
Later in August, the state of California expanded its lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, claiming it was intentionally interfering with investigation efforts. The suit is now suing on behalf of temporary workers as well as full-time employees who suffered harassment. California’s Department of Fair Employment & Housing accused Activision Blizzard’s human resource workers of shredding documents and making employees sign non-disclosure agreements that would stop them from talking to the DFEH without going through Activision Blizzard first. Activision Blizzard denies the accusations of destroying documents.
This week Activision Blizzard announced the hiring of two new senior executives to “help the company build a more inclusive workplace as well as diversify and grow its revenue.” Its new Chief People Officer is Julie Hodges, Disney’s former Senior Vice President of Corporate Human Relations and Compensation, Benefits, and Talent Acquisition. Activision Blizzard’s new Chief Commercial Officer is Sandeep Dube, formerly Senior Vice President of Revenue Management at Delta Airlines. Hodges and Dube start at Activision Blizzard on September 21 and 27, respectively.
“I can’t think of a better person to join our team and help lead our ongoing commitment to an inclusive workplace,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said of Hodges. “Julie is the seasoned leader we need to ensure we are the most inspiring, equitable and emulated entertainment company in the world.”
Of Dube, Kotick said, “While Sandeep connected the world through air travel at Delta, he created a growth-oriented culture that was focused on the very best customer experiences. The innovations he inspired created incredible customer loyalty.”