Over a year after the first reports and government investigations into the company began, publisher Activision Blizzard is facing fresh lawsuits over what is described in this latest case as a, “pervasive ‘frat-boy’ workplace culture that is a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.”
Content warning: harassment.
The latest suit, filed in Los Angeles by an unnamed former employee of the company, targets both Activision Blizzard itself along with the employee’s former manager, Miguel Vega. The complaint alleges:
Activision Blizzard’s failure to curb sexist and harassing conduct emboldened manager Miguel Vega to abuse, belittle and insult Ms. Doe by making comments to her about oral sex, masturbation and orgasms, threatening her job if she would not consent to sex, mocking her breasts, and commenting on other female employees’ attractiveness. Mr. Vega also repeatedly threatened to expose a compromising photo of Ms. Doe.
Update: 10/13/22 1:15 p.m. ET: Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George provided the following comment:
We take all employee concerns seriously. When the plaintiff reported her concerns, we immediately opened an investigation, and Mr. Vega was terminated within 10 days. We have no tolerance for this kind of misconduct.
The suit says the unnamed former employee, referred to here as Ms. Jane Doe, “first met Mr. Vega in 2009 or 2010 (before she started working at Activision Blizzard) when she participated in a game night with members of Activision Blizzard which included Mr. Vega.” Ms. Doe says the pair “soon formed a virtual friendship and she regrettably sent him compromising photos of herself.”
Ms. Doe says their friendship ended in 2011 when she met her future husband, but that in 2016 Vega helped her get some “independent contractor work at Activision Blizzard,” which later turned into a full-time position at the company as a community engagement coordinator for the Player Support department.
Of her time at the company, from 2016-2021, the suit says:
At work, Mr. Vega repeatedly groped Ms. Doe’s breasts around a dozen times. On each occasion, he would squeeze, grab or poke her breasts and she immediately recoiled at these unwanted advances. He often attempted to kiss her at work. All of Mr. Vega’s sexual advances upon Ms. Doe were unwelcomed. After each time she rejected him, he’d assure her that “one day it’ll happen” or “one day you’ll give in.”
It’s also alleged that during meetings Vega “abused, belittled and insulted Ms. Doe, telling her that her ideas were terrible and that she was failing ‘a job a monkey could do’.” He would also say reportedly she was a “no one” whose “opinions don’t matter,” and that she “doesn’t know shit.”
The suit then lists specific examples of sexual harassment allegations against Vega, which include:
At an Activision Blizzard office party in 2017, Mr. Vega walked Ms. Doe to a vacant part of the office away from the party and he asked her if she would give him oral sex if he were to “whip it out right here.”
When Ms. Doe expressed to Mr. Vega on several occasions that she felt underpaid, Mr. Vega often replied with a quid pro quo proposal: “Well you know what you need to do” while he pointed to his crotch.
Mr. Vega told Ms. Doe that he “is a very sexual person” and that he thus “needs to jack off at least twice a day.”
Mr. Vega asked Ms. Doe how often she pleasured herself.
Mr. Vega asked Ms. Doe how often her husband made her orgasm during sex, and if she felt like her husband meets her needs sexually (“How often does he make you cum?” and “Does he take care of you in the bedroom?”)
Ms. Doe’s complaints also accuse Vega of threatening her career if she ever reported him to HR (which she first did in 2017, saying “Activision Blizzard did nothing”), and that up until August 2021—weeks after the company’s culture had become international news—he continually threatened to publicly release the “compromising photos” he had of her.
The suit says Vega was finally reported directly to Ms. Doe’s manager in August 2021, and that “shortly after, Mr. Vega left a voicemail for Ms. Doe in a poor attempt to mitigate the harm he caused her.” Vega was then terminated from his position on September 1, 2021.
Ms. Doe’s complaint is calling for a full jury trial of both accused, and is ultimately seeking damages, legal fees, lost earnings and medical costs. Both Activision Blizzard and Mr. Vega have been contacted for comment.