Activision CEO responds to harassment allegations, comments on labor unions

Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick responds to the allegations of harassment made against the company and also asserts that he's not anti-union.

2 minutes & 41 seconds read time

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick discusses controversy at the company and comments on harassment allegations and his stance of labor unions.

Activision CEO responds to harassment allegations, comments on labor unions 6

In 2021, the California Civil Rights Department (formerly DFEH) sued Activision-Blizzard on the grounds of female employees facing "constant sexual harassment," which kicked off a wave of controversy that ultimately tanked Activision stock.

As per a press release from the CRD's announcement that it will not dismiss its case against Activision-Blizzard:

"In July 2021, the CRD filed a lawsuit against Activision in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that women were subjected to constant sexual harassment, including groping, comments, and advances, and that the company's executives and human resources personnel knew of the harassment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful conduct, and instead retaliated against women who complained. The complaint further alleges that the company fostered a sexist culture and paid women less than men, and assigned women to lower level jobs than men."

The company has yet to recover to pre-incident levels. Its highest point was in February 2021 where Activision stock was over $105, but in December 2021 the stock dropped down to $56. Now Activision stock is currently at the $80 mark.

Activision had also faced a lawsuit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which it settled for $18 million.

After the share drop, Microsoft made a premium offer of $95 per share to buy out Activision stock in a sweeping $68.7 billion deal that would merge the two into one of the most powerful video game entities on the market.

This long string of events has affected how the public and private sectors see Activision Blizzard King and has caused reputational damage and a blow to internal morale. After the reports broke out, thousands of workers banded together to demand change, leading to multiple walk-outs and strikes. Activision also faced push back from the labor unions like the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and complaints from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which eventually lead to the unionization of QA workers at Raven Software, one of the teams that helps make Call of Duty games.

Now in a recent interview with Variety, Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick responds to the issues in a way that could cause more morale issues at the company.

In the interview, Kotick denies any systemic harassment at Activision:

"We've had every possible form of investigation done. And we did not have a systemic issue with harassment - ever. We didn't have any of what were mischaracterizations reported in the media. But what we did have was a very aggressive labor movement working hard to try and destabilize the company."

Elsewhere in the interview, Kotick asserts that he is not anti-union--he's actually part of the SAG-AFTRA union after his role in Moneyball.

"I am not like other CEOs that are anti-union. I'm the only Fortune 500 CEO who's a member of a union.

"If we have employees who want a union to represent them, and they believe that that union is going to be able to provide them with opportunities and enhancements to their work experience, I'm all for it.

"I have a mother who was a teacher. I have no aversion to a union. What I do have an aversion to is a union that doesn't play by the rules."

Neither Kotick nor the Variety report offer evidence or clarity on the allegations of unions trying to "destabilize" the company.

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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