California sues video game publisher Activision Blizzard over equal pay violations, sexual harassment

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The state of California is suing Activision Blizzard, alleging the video game publisher violated equal pay laws and "fostered a sexist culture" within the workplace.

In a statement released by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court claims Activision Blizzard paid women less than men despite doing more work, and fired or forced women to quit at higher frequencies than men.

The agency also says women of color were "particularly impacted" by the company's practices.

The suit also alleges women working at Activision Blizzard were subject to constant sexual harassment including groping, comments and advances.

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"All employers should ensure that their employees are being paid equally and take all steps to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation," said Kevin Kish, director of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, in a statement. “This is especially important for employers in male-dominated industries, such as technology and gaming.”

A general view of atmosphere at the Activision booth during E3 2017 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Los Angeles.
A general view of atmosphere at the Activision booth during E3 2017 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Los Angeles.

In a statement emailed to USA TODAY, Activision Blizzard said some of the allegations outlined in the lawsuit contained distorted or false descriptions of the company's past. Activision Blizzard also said it has been cooperative throughout the agency's investigation.

Activision Blizzard publishes several high-profile video games including "Call of Duty," "Overwatch" and "World of Warcraft."

Activision Blizzard is the latest video game publisher facing harassment allegations. Last year, Bloomberg reported allegations of sexual misconduct at Ubisoft, the video game publisher behind popular games "Assassin's Creed" and "Tom Clancy's The Division."

During a quarterly earnings call the day after the Bloomberg reported published, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said he was determined to make changes to strengthen the company's corporate culture.

"Our overriding aim is ensuring that all Ubisoft employees have a safe and inclusive workplace environment," said Guillemot in a statement last year. "As a leader in our industry, we have to be intransigent in order to create an exemplary culture where everyone feels respected and valued."

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Activision Blizzard lawsuit: Gaming giant sued over sexual harassment

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