A current Blizzard employee accused the company of ignoring reports of sexual harassment and of retaliating against her in a press conference outside the video game publisher’s headquarters in Irvine on Wednesday morning.
Christine, who asked that reporters withhold her last name in order to preserve her privacy, is the first current employee at Blizzard Entertainment to come forward publicly with sexual assault allegations against the company. She described her experience in a statement read aloud to reporters.
“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,” she said. When she complained to her supervisors, Christine alleges they told her to “get over it” and not go to HR. Afterwards, she says she faced a demotion, further harassment and retaliation.
Blizzard Entertainment is a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard. The company said in a statement that “we appreciate the courage of our current and former employees in coming forward with reports of misconduct, and we are truly sorry for any victims of people whose conduct did not live up to our values.” It added that “such conduct is not consistent with our standards, our expectations, and what the vast majority of our employees meet on a daily basis.”
After Christine was finished reading her statement, her lawyer, high-profile attorney Lisa Bloom, called on Blizzard to create an expanded victim compensation fund “in excess of $100M.” Bloom also demanded “a real apology to Christine and the many other victims” as well as a neutral, third-party review “of the career damage employees like Christine have endured.”
Blizzard did not directly address Bloom’s demands in its response. However, the company said it is “in the process of implementing significant changes and improvements to the scope, structure and efficiency of our compliance and human resources teams, reporting systems, and transparency into our investigation process.”
The embattled game maker has faced numerous walkouts over complaints of rampant harassment and gender inequality at the company in recent months. Activist shareholders and more than 500 employees called on CEO Bobby Kotick to resign in November, following accusations that he concealed reports of sexual harassement and assault.
“At least three government agencies have recently investigated this company’s pattern of sexual harassment against employees like Christine,” said Bloom, who cited lawsuits from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Bloom also cited an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which she said “surely includes the many sexual harassment complaints.”
Bloom has previously represented model Janice Dickinson in her defamation lawsuit against Bill Cosby, Mischa Barton in her revenge porn case, as well as four women who accused former President Donald Trump of sexual assault. She also represented disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
Speaking at the press event on Wednesday, Bloom called for victims to come forward: “Please join us in this fight,” she said.
Bloom added, “We are not releasing [Christine’s] last name today to respect her privacy and we ask the media to do that as well.”
Here is Christine’s statement, in full:
My name is Christine, I have worked at Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision, for over four years. I still work here. I didn’t want to have to be up here doing this, but we need to make major changes at Activision-Blizzard. Working at Blizzard was my dream job. When I first heard about all the talented people working at Blizzard, I knew that was somewhere I wanted to work and somewhere I could accell in my career. I was so excited to be a part of a community that seemed to care so much about their employees. Unfortunately that didn’t happen for 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.
When I complained to my supervisors, I was told they were just joking and that I should get over it. I began to remove myself from work events to avoid all the sexual comments and groping. I was told not to go to HR. I was told that the harassing men were just trying to be friends with me. I was told they did nothing wrong by law. After I complained of the sexual harassment, I was demoted. I was then further harassed and retaliated against.
I’ve been denied my full profit sharing, denied shares in the company, and have had minimal raises in the four years I’ve been employed with Blizzard. Fighting to keep my job in this toxic workplace culture has taken a severe toll on my mental health. I’m up here today because I want to fight for a safe work environment for 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. Thank you to everyone here today and to everyone fighting for a better Blizzard.
Editor’s Note: This story has been update with a statement from Activision.