For over a year, Activision Blizzard employees have protested against the company’s poor handling of ongoing sexual harassment allegations. Now, an anonymous Jane Doe has filed yet another lawsuit against the gaming giant for sexual harassment, gender discrimination and sexual battery, among other complaints.
“For years, Activision Blizzard’s open ‘frat boy’ environment fostered rampant sexism, harassment and discrimination with 700 reported incidents occurring under CEO Robert Kotick’s watch,” the lawsuit explains. “The sexual misconduct was often committed by executives and in the presence of HR.” A report from the Wall Street Journal last year found that the CEO knew for years about rampant sexual harassment at the company, but failed to act.
In this case, the plaintiff alleges that a former product manager Miguel Vega sexually harassed her in the workplace for years; she says that he non-consensually groped and tried to kiss her at work, verbally abused her, and insinuated that if she gave in to his sexual advances, she would get a raise.
Doe first met Vega at a game night in 2009 or 2010. “They soon formed a virtual friendship and she regrettably sent him compromising photos of herself,” the lawsuit says. By 2011, Doe met her future husband and her relationship with Vega ceased, but she reconnected with him upon seeking work at Activision Blizzard in 2016.
The plaintiff told a manager about Vega’s behavior in 2017, but he didn’t face consequences. Later, he began threatening to leak the intimate photos that she sent him over a decade earlier. By August 2021 — a month after California regulators sued the company for gender-based harassment and discrimination — the plaintiff brought her concerns to HR once again.
“On August 23, 2021, despite Mr. Vega’s threat of revenge pornography, Ms. Doe mustered the courage to report Mr. Vega’s sexual harassment to manager Christopher Bruens. Mr. Bruens relayed her report to HR. Very shortly after, Mr. Vega left a voicemail for Ms. Doe in a poor attempt to mitigate the harm he caused her. On September 1, 2021, Activision Blizzard terminated Mr. Vega,” the lawsuit says.
Now, Doe is attempting to hold Activision Blizzard accountable for cultivating a hostile work environment and failing to protect her from sexual harassment. She is requesting a jury trial, seeking compensation for damages, medical expenses, legal fees and lost earnings.
Lisa Bloom, the lawyer defending the plaintiff, tweeted that her firm represents eight women who claim that they experienced sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard.
Activision Blizzard has not responded to TechCrunch’s request for comment. In a statement to Kotaku, spokesperson Rich George said, “We take all employee concerns seriously. When the plaintiff reported her concerns, we immediately opened an investigation, and Mr. Vega was terminated within 10 days. We have no tolerance for this kind of misconduct.”
Microsoft plans to purchase the gaming giant for $68.7 billion, pending regulatory approval. If the deal goes through, Kotick is expected to step down as CEO.