Today, a woman named Christine who works at major game publisher Activision Blizzard held a press conference with her lawyer Lisa Bloom to describe the sexual harassment she experienced at the company. This is the latest in the ongoing battle between Activision Blizzard and its employees surrounding sexual harassment and labor practices at the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publisher.
Christine alleged at the press conference that multiple incidents of sexual harassment took place at the company, including groping, requests for casual sex from her supervisors, and frequent comments on her body. When she presented these incidents to managers, Christine was told not to go to HR and that nothing illegal had actually been done. After reporting her sexual harassment to the company, she claims to have been demoted and denied both profit sharing and stock opportunities, in addition to receiving a minimal number of raises in her four years at the company.
Bloom laid out three demands, the first of which aligns with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s own complaints regarding the Activision Blizzard settlement. Bloom called for an expansion to the settlement fund from $18 million to $100 million, she also asked that victim advocates be included in the fund organization and disbursement process. Second, she demanded the company apologize to harassment victims. Third, Bloom called for a neutral third party to be brought in to assess career damages caused by Activision Blizzard’s practices and for those damages to be properly compensated through promotions within the company if found to be true.
Bloom, a lawyer known for her involvement in several high profile sexual assault and harassment cases in addition to her television presence and political punditry, led today’s conference. Bloom represented three of Bill O’Reilly’s accusers, four of Donald Trump’s, and Janice Dickinson in her defamation suit against Bill Cosby. She also consulted for Harvey Weinstein from late 2016 to October 2017, when she stepped down in response to public pressure. Additionally, she represented Roy Price, an Amazon executive accused of sexual harassment, but Bloom claims her involvement in Price’s case ended before his primary accuser came forward.
This is all to say that Bloom is no stranger to extremely high profile cases, and her presence may significantly increase public pressure on Activision Blizzard. Additionally, Bloom called for other victims to come forward and join her in holding the company accountable.
The major publisher is also under investigation and in the midst of litigation by both the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Both trials came to a head last month when the DFEH attempted to intervene in the EEOC’s settlement with Activision Blizzard, claiming the settlement was deeply unsatisfactory in comparison to the amount of harm inflicted on employees. The agency also said the EEOC’s trial was interfering with its own. The SEC also recently joined in on things, and has subpoenaed Bobby Kotick.
“We appreciate the courage of our current and former employees in coming forward with reports of misconduct, and we are truly sorry for any victims of people whose conduct did not live up to our values,” a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard said in an emailed statement to Kotaku. As we have continued to reaffirm in our recent communications, such conduct is not consistent with our standards, our expectations, and what the vast majority of our employees meet on a daily basis.
The spokesperson added that ”there is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct, harassment or retaliation of any kind.” And while the company did not specify whether it would adhere to any of the demands laid out by Bloom on behalf of her client, the company maintained “[it] will not tolerate any behavior that is not aligned to our values and will hold employees accountable who fail to live up to them.”
“The company is committed to creating an environment we can all be proud of. We are in the process of implementing significant changes and improvements to the scope, structure and efficiency of our compliance and human resources teams, reporting systems, and transparency into our investigation process,” the spokesperson added. “The safety and support of our employees, especially those who have suffered, remains our top priority.”
Amid this legal mire, there have been calls, both internally and externally, for Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to resign on account of multiple allegations of inaction, incompetence, and personal involvement in sexual harassment. Activision Blizzard employees have also taken steps to officially organize a union to secure more power over the company—something that appears increasingly necessary amid this legal turmoil and surprise layoffs at some branches of the company.
UPDATED: 12/9/2021 9:25 a.m. ET: This story was updated to include a statement Blizzard provided regarding the press conference.