California sues Activision Blizzard over sexual harassment

Activision Blizzard is a breeding ground for sexual harassment, with male workers fostering a “frat bro” culture full of rape jokes, harassment and groping that even drove one female employee to suicide, according to an explosive lawsuit brought by the state of California.

Male employees of the Santa Monica-based video-game publisher — whose titles include “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Guitar Hero” — subjected female employees to “constant sexual harassment,” according to the California suit, which was filed by the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing on Tuesday.

That includes “having to continually fend off unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male co-workers and supervisors and being groped at the ‘cube crawls’ and other company events,” the suit claims.

During the so-called “cube crawls,” male employees would “drink copious amounts of alcohol as they crawl their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees,” according to the suit.

The fact that 80 percent of Activision Blizzard’s employees are male meant that female employees felt they were unable to speak up about misconduct, the suit said. Women who reported sexual harassment were allegedly laid off, transferred to other teams involuntarily and denied opportunities to work on desirable projects.

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Activision Blizzard is the studio behind wildly popular games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
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Activision Blizzard did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Post but has slammed the suit as containing “distorted” and “false” claims in statements to other media outlets.

The company’s toxic culture even drove one female employee to suicide while on a business trip “due to a sexual relationship that she had been having with her male superior,” according to the suit.

At a holiday party before her death, the woman’s male co-workers allegedly passed around a photo of her vagina, according to the suit. Following her death, police reportedly found that her unnamed male supervisor had “brought a butt plug and lubricant on this business trip.”

While the suit contains frequent references to unnamed Activision employees, it calls out Blizzard president J. Allen Brack by name as being aware of and enabling misconduct.

The “World of Warcraft” team was especially prone to misconduct, according to the suit.

“World of Warcraft” senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi allegedly would “hit on female employees, telling him he wanted to marry them, attempting to kiss them, and putting, his arms around them” during company events.

“Afrasiabi was so known to engage in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the ‘Crosby Suite’ after alleged rapist Bill Crosby,” reads the suit, in an apparent reference to Bill Cosby.

Other members of the World of Warcraft team would hit on female employees and make “derogatory comments about rape” with the encouragement of their supervisors, according to the suit.

One supervisor on the “World of Warcraft” team reportedly encouraged a male subordinate to “‘buy’ a prostitute to cure his bad mood,” the suit says.

Female employees of the company were also systemically paid less and promoted less frequently due to the possibility that they could become pregnant and miss work, according to the suit.

The suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and was first reported by Bloomberg Law.