Activision Blizzard employees reportedly received an email from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today, asking them to fill out a survey about their experience with the company. The EEOC is a U.S. government body created to enforce federal laws regarding discrimination against employees on the basis of their “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.” The survey request appears to be part of an investigation into allegations of gender-based discrimination against the company.
“The EEOC is investigating Activision, in regard to allegations of gender-based and/or sexual harassment,” according to the text of the email sent out to Activision Blizzard workers, which was first reported by Dexerto. “The fact that EEOC is conducting an investigation of Activision does not mean there has been a violation of the law.”
The EEOC investigation comes on the heels of Activision Blizzard employees organizing over the past few weeks to share their salary information across the company. As Bloomberg first reported, Blizzard employees started circulating a spreadsheet in the company’s official Slack channels where workers could anonymously share their salaries and recent pay increases. The spreadsheet is meant to be a way to discover wage disparities within the workforce.
In addition to salary disparities, Activision Blizzard has been under fire over the past few years for allegations of racism and sexism within their company culture. A Blizzard employee was targeted with racially charged comments in 2018, according to a complaint filed in early 2019. The former worker alleged that he reported these incidents to the organization in a timely fashion but was ignored.
More recently, in June, Tyler Rosen, who was a senior manager of global business strategy and operations at Blizzard, was accused of engaging in sexual misconduct at an overnight work event. Following that alleged instance of misbehavior, he wasn’t removed from his position. According to Rosen himself, “a separate instance of unprofessional behavior contributed to my departure from Blizzard in 2018.” It appears that Activision Blizzard may have a pattern of ignoring discriminatory behavior.
The EEOC investigation comes at a key moment of reflection for the gaming space as a whole. Over the past several months, gaming and esports organizations have been faced with hundreds of allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and gender-based discrimination. The explosion of accusations led to the resignations and firings of dozens of abusive people across the gaming industry, many of whom were in leadership positions. Most recently, several Ubisoft employees came forward to accuse the company of protecting abusers, leading to the suspension and investigation of two company vice presidents.
With the federal government finally taking notice of the misconduct within the gaming industry, companies will likely need to start to take a more proactive approach to protect their employees from abuse.