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Activision Blizzard faces fresh allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination in new lawsuit

Also accused of retaliation in response to complaints.

A new lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of a current Activision Blizzard employee has raised fresh allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the publisher, also accusing it of retaliation after the employee publicly spoke out about her experiences at the company in December.

According to the lawsuit, as reported by Bloomberg Law, the employee – referred to only as Jane Doe – started work as a senior administrative assistant to executives in Activision Blizzard’s IT department in 2017. It’s claimed Doe was often pressured to drink alcohol at the company, was subjected to sexual comments about her appearance and clothing, was subjected unwelcome physical touching and attempts to kiss her, and that women were routinely made to participate in “cube crawls” where they experienced sexual comments and groping.

Doe is said to have started dressing “more conservatively” and avoiding offsite leadership dinners in order to escape sexual harassment, and it’s alleged that when she complained about her supervisors’ excessive drinking and sexual advances, she was told “it was just her leadership being nice and trying to be friends with her”. Furthermore, the lawsuit – which also targets five named Activision Blizzard employees – claims Doe was instructed to keep her concerns to herself at the time as they could be “damaging” to the company.

Doe alleges that, as a result of her complaints, she began to face a hostile work environment. Many applications to other open positions in the company were rejected when she tried to move away from the IT department, and it’s claimed that it wasn’t until she highlighted the sexual harassment and retaliation in a written complaint to Blizzard’s then-president Allen J. Brack that she was offered a role in a different department – one she accepted despite it being a lower-level position with a significant salary decrease.

Doe is also said to have applied to an executive assistant position last November, but claims her application was rejected after she spoke at a press conference held in December to highlight the harassment, discrimination, and retaliation she had experienced at Activision Blizzard.

Alongside damages, the lawsuit is requesting that Activision Blizzard be required to implement a rotating HR department to avoid conflicts of interest with management, to retain a neutral investigation firm, and to fire CEO Bobby Kotick.

Today’s legal action is the latest in a string of controversies to rock Activision Blizzard (which was acquired by Microsoft for $69bn earlier this year) following last July’s State of California lawsuit calling the publisher a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women”. Not long after those claims were made, CEO Bobby Kotick became the focus of a damning report alleging he was aware of sexual misconduct within the company “for years”.

More recently, the parents of a former Activision Blizzard employee who committed suicide during a company retreat in 2017 launched a lawsuit suing the publisher for wrongful death, alleging the suicide was the result of sexual harassment by work colleagues.

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