Olivia R. August 13, 2020
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has reportedly reached out to Activision Blizzard employees over their discrimination allegations against the game developer and publisher.
The email appeared to be part of an investigation into discrimination based on sex and of sexual harassment within the company. It asked an employee to speak to the EEOC if they had experienced or witnessed discrimination or harassment at Activision Blizzard. The email also advised the employee to not fill out the survey during work hours or while using Activision's equipment.
"The fact that EEO is conducting an investigation of Activision does not mean there has been a violation of the law," the email added.
Why did Blizzard employees receive EEOC email?
Blizzard has been under fire recently for salary disparities. Employees started sharing a spreadsheet with their compensation information included. That anonymous document had dozens of Blizzard employee salaries, and showed that most raises were below 10%. The salaries and raises were reportedly below what the employees had expected.
While Activision Blizzard spokeswoman Jessica Taylor told Bloomberg that they always ensure "fair and competitive" compensation, the salaries were even more frustrating to employees after it was learned that chief executive officer Bobby Kotick earned $40 million in 2019. New chief financial officer Dennis Durkin was also given a $15 million stock reward as a sign-on bonus.
Blizzard has also been under fire for allegations of racism and sexism. A complaint filed in 2019 revealed that a Blizzard employee felt targeted with racially charged comments in 2018. The employee wrote a TwitLonger that outlined ongoing racist comments he received about his Mexican heritage and how the anxiety it created at work almost brought him to suicide.
In June of this year, senior manager of global business strategy and operations Tyler Rosen was accused of sexual misconduct. The employee wrote a TwitLonger that denied the allegations, and he was never fired.
"I am determined to be better and to use this time to further reflect, learn, and improve. I will immediately seek coaching so that I am better able to prevent inappropriate situations and behaviors moving forward," Rosen said.
As hundreds of women come forward with stories of sexual assault, discrimination, and abuse, the EEOC may have started to take notice. Many individuals in leadership positions have stepped down or been fired from their companies. This includes Ubisoft's editorial vice presidents Tommy François and Maxime Béland, who were suspended after they were accused of abuse. Ashraf Ismail and Andrien “Escoblades” Gbinigie, who worked on Assassin's Creed and Watch Dogs: Legion respectively, were also accused of various offenses.
Meanwhile, some other companies, including Twitch, have yet to act on accusations against high-ranking employees, including Twitch's CEO.
Many within the gaming and esports industry feel that there's not enough is being done about the sexism, racism, and discrimination within these fields. The EEOC getting involved may be what these companies need to start supporting employees that reveal the discrimination they've experienced.