In the midst of multiple lawsuits and investigations over allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard, an employee on Wednesday made a public statement about the abuse she says she's experienced over her four-year career at the studio. Christine works for Blizzard, the group responsible for games including Overwatch and Diablo, and she stood outside the studio's headquarters in Irvine, California, with her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, by her side.
Through tears, Christine said she experienced years of sexual harassment at Blizzard, even though it had started out as her "dream job."
"I was so excited to be a part of a community that seemed to care so much about their employees," Christine said. "Unfortunately, that didn't happen to me. Since I've been employed at Blizzard, I've been subjected to rude comments about my body, unwanted sexual advances, inappropriately touched, subjected to alcohol-infused team events and cube crawls, invited to have casual sex with my supervisors, and surrounded by a frat-boy culture that's detrimental to women."
Christine said she brought these negative experiences to her supervisors and they were brushed aside. According to her statement, her superiors said the men harassing her were "just joking" and that she should "get over it." She was told not to go to HR. She was told her abusers had done nothing wrong in the eyes of the law.
Christine said that after she complained about the sexual abuse she was experiencing, she was demoted and faced retaliation. She said she was denied shares in the company and full profit-sharing, and she received minimal raises.
In her statement, Christine said her mental health was shattered by these events, but she was going public in order to fight for a safe work environment for all Activision Blizzard employees.
"Blizzard has some amazing people that work for them, but we need to feel safe and supported by people in leadership roles, and hold people accountable for their actions," she said.
Activision Blizzard is facing multiple investigations and lawsuits regarding its alleged frat-boy culture. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is suing the studio after an investigation uncovered years of discriminatory hiring practices, a systemic failure to treat sexual harassment seriously, and a culture that encouraged abuse. The result, according to the DFEH report, was a studio where just 20 percent of employees were women, and leadership roles were held only by white men.
Lisa Bloom, Christine's lawyer, made a statement of her own after the employee spoke.
"We are here because sexual harassment victims at Activision Blizzard have been ignored," Bloom said. "They are still suffering and it's time that they are prioritized."
Following an investigation by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this year, Activision Blizzard was ordered to establish an $18 million fund to compensate victims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the studio. Bloom argued that this amount is far too low, considering there are hundreds of victims. She also pointed out that Activision Blizzard has already missed critical deadlines when it comes to distributing this money.
"I think we can all agree that the $18 million number is woefully inadequate," Bloom said.
Bloom then outlined three demands. She first said Activision Blizzard should establish a streamlined, fair and fast process for all victims to resolve their legal claims, and asked for a fund exceeding $100 million. Second, Bloom said the studio should deliver a real apology to Christine and the other victims, and third, she demanded a review by a neutral third party of the career damage employees like Christine have endured, with the goal of remedying any discriminatory decisions.
Bloom has ample experience in this legal arena, most recently representing victims of Jeffrey Epstein.
Activision Blizzard employees have staged a handful of walkouts in protest of the studio's response to these allegations, which has been dismissive and generally terrible. More than 800 workers in November signed a petition calling for CEO Bobby Kotick to resign, considering he's held that position for 30 years and has overseen the alleged culture of harassment and discrimination the entire time. Kotick's tenure at the studio and his power over the board is also likely why he hasn't yet been forced out.