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Activision Blizzard being sued by family of employee who died by suicide

Activision Blizzard is being sued for wrongful death by the family of an employee that died by suicide after allegedly being sexually harassed.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the family of 32-year-old Activision Blizzard finance manager Kerri Moynihan, who was found dead during a company retreat in 2017, are claiming sexual harassment was a “significant factor” in her suicide.

Moynihan’s death was one of many disturbing incidents referenced in last year’s State of California lawsuit, which called Activision Blizzard “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women” and spoke of a “frat boy culture” at the company where “women were subjected to numerous sexual comments and advances, groping and unwanted physical touching, and other forms of harassment.”

The California lawsuit also specifically alleged that male co-workers had passed around a picture of Moynihan’s vagina during the business retreat prior to her suicide (although she was not directly named in the filing), and referenced a “male supervisor” who was claimed to have brought sex toys with him on the trip.

That supervisor is named as Greg Restituito in the new wrongful death filing, submitted to the Los Angeles Superior Court, with Paul and Janet Moynihan claiming Restituito initially lied to California investigators looking into their daughters’s death at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – concealing the fact he had a sexual relationship with Moynihan, while also attempting to hide evidence of the relationship following her death.

The lawsuit also alleges Activision Blizzard refused to hand Moynihan’s company-issued laptop over to police during the inquiry, claimed her mobile phone had been “wiped”, and refused to give investigators access to Restituito’s laptop and mobile phone.

In a statement provided to the Wall Street Journal in response to its latest report, Activision Blizzard declined to directly address allegations made in the lawsuit, only saying it was “deeply saddened by the tragic death of Ms. Moynihan, who was a valued member of the company” and that it would “address the complaint through the legal process as appropriate, and out of respect for the family [had] no further comment at this time.”

Activision Blizzard did, of course, take a considerably more combative tone in a statement released following the publication of last year’s state of California lawsuit, claiming the filing contained “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past”, insisting, “It is this type of irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.”

Condemnation of that statement’s tone was swift, and Activision Blizzard’s attempts to right its public image have only worsened since then. CEO Bobby Kotick was subsequently the subject of a damning report claiming he was aware of sexual misconduct within the company “for years”, and the publisher’s repeated insistence it is working hard to improve its company culture continues to be undermined by its actions.

Earlier this week, Activision Blizzard attempted to blame the fact it had failed to introduce a third woman to its board of directors last year, as California state law mandates, on Microsoft’s recent $69BN acquisition of the beleaguered publisher.

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