Research in recent months on Activision Blizzard it seemed to have reached a point of stability. There are several pending cases, such as the initial litigation of the DFEH for harassment and discrimination in the company’s workforce, but a new report completely shakes the company’s ranks.
The Wall Street Journal has been in charge of revealing that Bobby kotick, the chief executive officer of Activision Blizzard, was aware of cases of harassment towards its employees. The outlet explains that Kotick received an email in 2018 with information from a lawyer, representing a Sledgehammer Games employee.
It detailed that his client had been raped in 2016 and 2017 by one of her supervisors after trying to pressure her to drink alcohol at work and during events. The lawyer was threatening a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, since the human resources department did not act in this case.
The publication points out that Activision reached an out-of-court settlement, although Bobby Kotick chose not to inform the company’s board of directors about the alleged violations or the agreement. The sources consulted detail that Kotick assured his fellow executives that he was not aware of the accusations of harassment and discrimination, in addition to having minimized the impact of some of them.
The Wall Street Journal argues that Kotick did have knowledge, as revealed by different documents reviewed. Several employees who left the company for these behaviors were praised when leaving and their colleagues were urged to remain silent about what happened. The post continues by stating that Kotick diverted the issues to the Blizzard division, without directly involving Activision.
Helaine Klasky, a spokeswoman for Activision, has responded to the media clarifying that “Mr. Kotick would not have been informed of all reports of misconduct in all Activision Blizzard companies, nor would you be reasonably expected to be up-to-date on all personnel issues“In addition, it has added on behalf of the Activision board that its members were” kept informed at all times regarding the state of regulatory affairs. “
Accusations about Kotick
In turn, Kotick himself has been accused by several women of mistreatment both inside and outside the workplace. One of the examples given by TWSJ indicates that in 2006 one of his assistants accused him of harassment and of having threatened to kill her in a voicemail. This matter was resolved out of court.
Klasky notes that the president “was quick to apologize 16 years ago for the obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate voicemail, and deeply regrets the hype and tone in his voicemail to this day.” Sources say that in 2007 there was another incident involving a flight attendant during a private jet trip. This flight attendant stated that she was sexually harassed by Kotick, for which she was fired by Kotick. In 2008, an agreement was reached with the payment of 200,000 dollars to the stewardess.
The Appointment and Departure of Jennifer Oneal from Blizzard
One of the first changes the company implemented was appointing Jennifer Oneal as co-director of Blizzard, following the departure of J. Allen Brack. His duration in office has been just a couple of months, since according to The Wall Street Journal, Onela sent an email claiming lack of commitment from Activision’s board when making changes to improve the current situation.
“I have been marginalized and discriminated against“Oneal explained in his email, as revealed by the sources of the medium. The person in charge explained that he had been sexually harassed previously in Activision, that he was paid less than his male counterpart in charge of Blizzard and that he wanted to discuss his resignation Finally, on November 2 it was announced that Oneal will step down from his post at the end of 2021.
The Dan Bunting case
Dan Bunting, co-director of Activision’s Treyarch studio, is the subject of other TWSJ disclosures. Write down the text that the developer was accused by an employee of sexually harassing her in 2017, a fact that led to an investigation by the human resources department and the suggestion of his dismissal. Bobby Kotick stepped in, offered advice and assistance to Bunting, and allowed him to stay with the company.
Klasky has indicated that “after considering possible actions in light of that investigation, the company decided not to fire Mr. Bunting, but rather impose other disciplinary measures“On the other hand, the spokeswoman herself has pointed out that Bobby Kotick” is generally not involved in the hiring, compensation or firing decisions of the majority of employees. “ Bunting has left the company after the publication of the information from The Wall Street Journal, as confirmed by Polygon.
Activision Blizzard Reply
Through a statement to Bloomberg, the company has valued the information provided by The Wall Street Journal. This is the full text:
“We are disappointed in the Wall Street Journal report, which presents an inaccurate and misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO. The sexual misconduct cases that were brought up received appropriate action. The WS ignores important changes underway to make this the most welcoming and inclusive workplace and does not take into account the efforts of thousands of employees who work hard every day to live up to their – and our – values.
being better has always set this company apart.
That is why, under the direction of Mr. Kotick, we have made significant improvements, including a zero tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior. And that’s why we move forward with an unwavering focus, with speed and resources to continue to increase diversity in our company and industry and to ensure that all employees come to work feeling valued, safe, respected and inspired. We won’t stop until we have the best workplace for our team. “