Monday, October 25, 2021
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So who had “Activision-Blizzard gets caught shredding possible evidence in an ongoing lawsuit” on the ol’ Blizzard scandal bingo card?

Yes, we’re back to coverage of the ongoing disaster trainwreck over at Activision-Blizzard, the subject of a lawsuit filed in July by the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing alleging that the company has fostered a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination that led to, among other things, the death of a bullied employee. As we’ve been covering this summer, Activision-Blizzard’s public response to the lawsuit was almost as bad as the suit itself, as its deputies denied wrongdoing, insulted victims, axed middle managers, disparaged whistleblowers, and hired a union-busting firm on a pretense of reviewing its policies, all while refusing to acknowledge the full breadth of employee demands.

Apparently, the company’s private response to the lawsuit was just as bad, as Axios reports that California is amending its lawsuit to add additional workers and accuse the studio of impeding its investigation by interfering with witnesses and their testimony. And yes, remarkably, the state’s investigators directly accuse Blizzard of destroying evidence: “[D]ocuments related to investigations and complaints were shredded by human resource personnel.” Blizzard workers have responded with shock.

Activision-Blizzard issued a statement to Kotaku claiming that in fact it has “complied with every proper request” in regard to the lawsuit (and yes, the word “proper” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there). The company also listed out the “reforms” it says are underway, including “high-level personnel changes,” “revamped hiring and recruiting practices,” “greater transparency on pay equity,” and “restructured divisions to support greater accountability,” and if the company actually had done everything it claims in just a month, it should probably quit its day job making games and switch to consulting services for global corporations because that’d be a freakin’ miracle. Oh, the spokesperson also says they’ve “[e]xpanded and improved training and investigative capabilities for human resource and compliance staff” – hopefully that includes training on how to safely destroy alleged evidence because safety is very important.

“We have provided the DFEH with clear evidence that we do not have gender pay or promotion disparities,” Acti-Blizz insists, contrary to the allegations already presented in the original lawsuit. “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.”

Readers will recall that the California DFEH is the same state agency involved in a lawsuit against Riot Games for similar depravities and has multiple times accused Riot of illegally interfering with its investigation; earlier this month, it secured an order from a judge meant to protect workers from retaliation by Riot. In other words, yeah, we probably should have pre-emptively put all this on our bingo card.

Further reading:

• California lawsuit now alleges Activision-Blizzard HR literally ‘shredded’ evidence

• Complete coverage of Blizzard’s sexual discrimination and harassment scandal

• Overwatch League loses more sponsors as workers expose Activision-Blizzard’s toxic culture

• WoW Factor: What do changes in Blizzard management mean for World of Warcraft?

• Blizzard apparently ousted three more key devs, including Diablo IV’s game director

• Activision-Blizzard shareholder group blasts response to scandal, demands board reshuffle

• Blizzard workers address the drawbacks of boycotts, gamers lament WoW’s deep decline

• Diablo community manager recounts low pay, a sexually threatening culture, and mistreatment at Blizzard

• Activision-Blizzard: Frances Townsend steps down from one studio post, Jeff Kurtenacker departs

• New exposé reveals still more layers of sexual harassment and discrimination at Blizzard

• Activision-Blizzard sexism scandal day 17: More esports sponsors consider abandoning Overwatch League

• Vague Patch Notes: Blizzard may live on, but it will never be Blizzard again

• Activision-Blizzard Day 14: Brack and Meschuk exits, fraud lawsuit, proto-union, and Q2 financials

• Q2 2021: Activision revenues are up, Blizzard MAUs are down amid sexism scandal

• The gamer in the infamous BlizzCon video says she ‘dodged a bullet’ by not working at Blizzard

• Blizzard’s J. Allen Brack is stepping down ahead of today’s investor call

• Former ArenaNet co-founder Jeff Strain calls for game dev unionization

• An Activision-Blizzard worker was arrested for bathroom peeping in 2018

• Massively Overthinking: Has Blizzard’s sexism lawsuit changed your gaming plans?

• WoW Factor: Why does this latest Blizzard scandal feel so different?

• Blizzard Day 9: Ubisoft stands in solidarity, Ashes of Creation buys Blizzard workers lunch

• Activision-Blizzard walkout organizers respond to Kotick, Kotaku exposes ‘Cosby suite’ attendees

• Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick: ‘The leadership team has heard you loud and clear’

• Massively OP Podcast Episode 332: Does every voice really matter at Blizzard?

• Blizzard workers plan walkout over sexism scandal, WoW team addresses playerbase

• Casually Classic: Making the call to quit WoW or not

• Blizzard’s sexism scandal continues, 2500 devs sign letter condemning Acti-Blizz response

• MMO Week in Review: RIP to the Blizzard you thought you knew

• Chris Metzen offers apology for Blizzard’s culture of ‘harassment, inequality, and indifference’

• Mike Morhaime to female Blizzard workers: ‘I am extremely sorry that I failed you’

• WoW Factor: No king rules forever

• J Allen Brack addresses Blizzard staff over sexism scandal, Activision doubles down on deflection

• ‘We do not serve Activision Blizzard’: Furious WoW players stage protest against Blizzard

• California sues Activision-Blizzard over discrimination and sexist, toxic work culture

Source: California DFEH, Axios, Kotaku. Cheers, Wilhelm.

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