A new lawsuit call of Duty Publisher Activision Blizzard by a current employee is making new allegations of sexual harassment at the publisher, this time focusing on executives in Blizzard’s IT department. According to the lawsuit, the current employee was repeatedly subjected to unwanted advances, touching, and inappropriate comments. She says she retaliated after reporting it to HR and then passed over for promotions to force her out of the company.
submitted Los Angeles Superior Court on March 23the new lawsuit depicts a current employee (referred to as Ms. Doe) who first made these allegations in a press conference last December. It claims that despite public pledges from Activision Blizzard to support the victims, it has continued to retaliate against the employee in the months since she came forward.
The lawsuit says she was passed over for a promotion weeks later and given no reason for it. It also said the company lied in an email to other employees in January that she had been fired. “Activision Blizzard’s relentless efforts to push her out continued on February 1, 2022, when two new temp workers were hired to fill the very jobs that Ms. Doe did,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit also goes into new details about the obvious sexual misconduct that has occurred in Blizzard’s IT department and named three former employees among the accused: former chief technology officer Ben Kilgore, former chief information officer Derek Ingalls and former IT director Mark Skorupa. The first two were former Microsoft employees before Blizzard. Skorupa is currently a Microsoft employee. Microsoft, which is under scrutiny for its own past handling of sexual harassment casesis currently making a $68.7 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard.
Activision Blizzard, Ingalls and Skorupa did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kilgore could not be reached immediately. Microsoft declined to comment.
The acquisition agreement came about at the share price of the embattled publisher had fallen after months of the previous complain and reports Allegations of years of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination in the company. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who is among those charged with not addressing abuse, has since done so apologized to the staffcommitted to a series of reforms, including a new zero-tolerance policy on harassment, and embarked on a tentative trial $18 million settlement with the Commission for Equal Opportunities.
After the proposed acquisition was announced in January, Microsoft became CEO Satya Nadella praised Kotick’s business acumen and said he’s grateful for “his leadership and commitment to real change” in the months since the allegations first became public in July 2021. The company’s reforms are over.
In the lawsuit, the employee says the sexual harassment began on her very first day at Blizzard in 2017, when she was taken out to lunch and repeatedly encouraged to drink tequila. At one point, Skorupa, her boss, “forced his hand on Ms. Doe’s lap.” Other instances have included allegedly unwanted hugs from Skorupa and Kilgore, comments about her breasts, and other inappropriate remarks. The lawsuit alleges Ingalls forced her to stay longer with other male employees and play one jack box Party game that often revolved around sexual jokes. It is also alleged that a senior administrative assistant once offered her sex and that a senior IT manager tried to kiss her. Both are currently employed by Blizzard.
According to the lawsuit, none of the named employees took any action to stop the harassment or to report it to Human Resources. Instead, it is alleged that the employee faced retaliation after she first reported the abuse herself in August 2018 by losing her responsibilities and subsequently being denied promotions or transfers from the department. It is alleged that in one instance HR tried to excuse the offensive behavior and in another said they would raise the issues but apparently never did. She claims it wasn’t until she wrote then-Blizzard President J. Allen Brack about the sexual harassment in 2019 that she was able to secure another position at the company, albeit for a lower salary.
According to their LinkedIn profiles, Ingalls left Blizzard in August 2019 for a job at Amazon and Skorupa left Blizzard in December 2019 to return to Microsoft. Kilgore was reportedly terminated in August 2018 following an investigation into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. The lawsuit alleges that when this happened, several men in Blizzard’s leadership posed for a photo, all showing the middle finger, which Ingalls later emailed to others. “This photo signaled to Ms. Doe that the leadership thought defendant KILGORE’s departure for sexual misconduct was a joke,” the lawsuit reads.
Prior to joining Blizzard, Kilgore was a high-profile vice president of Xbox program management at Microsoft, where he helped ship the Xbox One. Ingalls worked with him on the launch as a longtime general manager of Xbox Live operations. Skorupa was a program manager on Xbox. After Kilgore was finished, Ingalls reportedly “joked” in a meeting about employees not sleeping with their assistants.
Blizzard’s Microsoft connections remain to this day. Its current president, Mike Ybarra, was vice president of Game Pass before joining it over watch Maker in 2019. “Dinner with Kilgore and Ingalls tonight should be fun meeting friends.” he tweeted in October 2019. “It’s funny how roles/jobs drift people apart.”
In addition to seeking damages for lost wages, humiliation, emotional distress and other harm, Activision Blizzard’s latest lawsuit also seeks court orders to force Activision to establish a rotating human resources department to avoid conflicts of interest and fire CEO Bobby Kotick. Kotick is expected to resign after the Microsoft deal is finalized, but not before he leaves with an estimate $390 million payout as a result of the takeover.
The law firm representing Kotick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
https://kotaku.com/activision-blizzard-sexual-harassment-xbox-lawsuit-reta-1848700680 Activision Blizzard Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Alleges Retaliation