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State of California alleges Activision Blizzard HR "shredded" documents

UPDATE: Activision Blizzard responds.

UPDATE 1.30pm UK: Activision Blizzard has responded to the latest developments surrounding the newly-updated lawsuit filed by the State of California. The publisher's statement lies below in full:

"Throughout our engagement with the DFEH [State of California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing], we have complied with every proper request in support of its review even as we had been implementing reforms to ensure our workplaces are welcoming and safe for every employee. Those changes continue today, and include:

  • Several high-level personnel changes;
  • Revamped hiring and recruiting practices requiring diverse interview panels;
  • Greater transparency on pay equity;
  • Expanded and improved training and investigative capabilities for human resource and compliance staff;
  • Created investigation teams outside of business units to support greater independence;
  • Restructured divisions to support greater accountability;
  • Enhanced review processes to include evaluation of managers by employees;
  • Clear boundaries on workplace behaviour with a zero-tolerance approach to harassment and other actions that diminish or marginalise.

"We strive to be a company that recognizes and celebrates the diverse talents and perspectives that lead to the creation of great, globally appealing entertainment. We have provided the DFEH with clear evidence that we do not have gender pay or promotion disparities. Our senior leadership is increasingly diverse, with a growing number of women in key leadership roles across the company.

"We share DFEH's goal of a safe, inclusive workplace that rewards employees equitably and are committed to setting an example that others can follow.

"With regards to claims that we have destroyed information by shredding documents, those claims are not true. We took appropriate steps to preserve information relevant to the DFEH investigation."

ORIGINAL STORY 11.30am UK: The State of California has beefed up its legal battle with Activision Blizzard, and accused the firm's HR department of shredding documents related to staff complaints and internal investigations.

These documents, California says, should have been kept pending its own legal investigation (thanks, Axios).

The state has also criticised Activision Blizzard for enforcing NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) which have hampered staff efforts to speak out, and for involving third-party legal firm WilmerHale to investigate - something California says "directly interferes" with its own efforts.

California has now filed an updated complaint against Activision Blizzard, and widened the language of its original document to include scope for temporary or contracted staff.

Activision Blizzard is yet to comment on this latest development. Eurogamer has contacted the publisher for more.

The controversial hiring of WilmerHale has now repeatedly come under fire - first from a collective of Activision Blizzard staff known as the ABK Workers Alliance, and then from SOC Investment Group executive Dieter Waizeneggar, a major Activision Blizzard shareholder.

"This firm has a sterling reputation as a defender of the wealthy and connected, but it has no track record of uncovering wrongdoing," Waizeneggar wrote earlier this month. "The lead investigator does not have in-depth experience investigating workplace harassment and abuse, and the scope of the investigation fails to address the full range of equity issues [Activision Blizzard boss Bobby] Kotick acknowledges."

The State of California originally filed suit against Activision Blizzard in July, over what it alleged to be a "frat boy" culture that created "a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women".

Its lawsuit claimed there was a culture of "constant sexual harassment", mainly at Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of World of Warcraft, Diablo and Overwatch.

Since then, Activision has slowly made attempts to acknowledge the issues, while eventually pressing on with its marketing campaigns. Troubling stories have surfaced of employee misbehaviour and multiple men have left the company, but there is clearly still a long way to go.

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Tom Phillips

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Tom is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.


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