A dozen current and former Activision Blizzard employees formed a committee to protect employees from discriminatory practices at the studio, and prepared a list of demands for CEO Bobby Kotick, newly appointed diversity officer Kristen Hines and Chief Human Resources Officer Julie Hodges.
As detailed by The Washington Post, the group’s demands include ending mandatory arbitration in discrimination cases, improving on-site lactation rooms, protecting workers from retaliation, increasing support for trans workers, and opening independent investigations into cases. of discrimination, including sexual harassment. The workers’ group, called the Worker Committee Against Sex and Gender Discrimination, today submitted their demands to the studio’s leadership team.
The committee specifically demands private lactation rooms and suitable storage areas for breast milk and pumping equipment. Nursing workers at Activision Blizzard have documented their problems with the studio’s lactation rooms, describing them as filthy, inconvenient, and poorly secured. Workers said breast milk refrigerators were also used to store beer, people expressing pumps often had to sit on the floor and breast milk was sometimes stolen. With regard to trans rights, the group is demanding the creation of a trans network similar to the internal network of women’s resources and the wiping of software tools from the dead names of employees.
In response to the formal call for change, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told the Post that the studio appreciated hearing employees’ concerns, and outlined a few changes that had already been made to improve the lactation chambers, the arbitration process, and improve communication channels.
Activision Blizzard executives have been accused in multiple lawsuits over the past year of cultivating a sexist, discriminatory workplace. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing first sued Activision Blizzard in July 2021 after a two-year investigation into allegations of unchecked sexual harassment, gender discrimination and a pervasive “frat boy culture” in the studio. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal group, filed a similar lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in September 2021. Activision Blizzard settled the federal EEOC lawsuit in March, agreeing to create an $18 million fund to compensate employees who have experienced discrimination in the studio.
Backed by the Communications Workers of America, Activision Blizzard employees have been advocating for change and unionization — successfully to some degree — since the lawsuits were filed. CWA called the $18 million settlement “quite inadequate,” arguing that it would offer the maximum compensation to just 60 employees, when there were likely hundreds of plaintiffs.
Former Activision Blizzard employee and campaign organizer for the technology industry group CODE-CWA, Jessica Gonzalez, this week appealed the $18 million settlement, asking for an increase in compensation. Gonzalez is one of 12 members of the Worker Committee Against Sex and Gender Discrimination.
A current employee filed an additional lawsuit this week accusing Activision Blizzard of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. And there’s the studio’s extensive investigation into workplace practices currently underway with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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