Activision Blizzard is accused of union busting and worker intimidation in a new lawsuit

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Employees have brought a new suit against Activision Blizzard, claiming that the company used “coercive techniques” to stop organisational efforts to improve work conditions. This is continuing legal action from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The lawsuit alleges sexual harassment, discrimination and a “fratboy” culture at Blizzard.

After the first Activision Blizzard filing, more than 2000 employees signed a petition calling the initial response of the company to the lawsuit “abhorrent” and “insulting”. The subsequent strike action saw over 500 workers leave and hundreds more take part virtually all around the globe in an attempt to improve work conditions.

The new lawsuit was filed by the ABetterABK worker group in association with the Communications Workers of America to the National Labor Review Board. It alleges Activision Blizzard “engaged and is engaged in unfair labor practices” within the past six months in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

The CWA released a press statement announcing that the legal action was being taken. “Activision Blizzard management uses coercive techniques to try to stop its employees exercising their right to stand together, demand a more equitable and sustainable workplace. Federal labor law protects workers’ rights to organize and seek a safe work environment.

Activision Blizzard “threatened” employees by telling them they couldn’t talk or communicate about their wages, hours or working conditions. It also stated that it has “maintained a broad social media policy and has enforced this policy against employees who engage in protected concerted activities” (i.e. Worker activity that is protected by federal law, has “treated and disciplined employees for protected concerted activities”, engaged in surveillance of employees involved in protected concerted action, and interrogated employees about protected concerted behavior.

This “protected concerted action” included petitioning Activision Blizzard for better working conditions. ABetterABK has continued to make four demands. These include an end to the use of forced arbitration in employment contracts, inclusive recruitment and hiring practices and increased transparency in pay through compensation metrics. ABK also wants an independent audit to review ABK’s policies and practices.

Activision Blizzard met this demand by requesting a third party audit of ABK policies and practices. An important criticism of Activision Blizzard’s choice for WilmerHale has been that it chose WilmerHale as a company because of its reputation for union-busting.

Activision Blizzard is not the only one to be accused of having acted in bad faith when responding to initial claims made by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Recently the DFEH updated their lawsuit. It claimed Activision Blizzard’s HR department had destroyed documents related to internal investigations and staff complaints – an allegation that Call of Duty’s publisher called “not true”.

Publited at Wed 15 Sep 2021, 00:01.25 +0000

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