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Activision Blizzard employees allege company used "intimidation" and "surveillance" to stop workers unionizing

Activision Blizzard employees have filed a federal labour board complaint against the company, which accuses the company of "violating federal labour law through coercive rules, actions and statements."
Activision Blizzard Inc seems to be embroiled in controversies in recent times given the slew of lawsuits being filed against the company. In July, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (CDFEH) filed a class-action lawsuit against the company for "injunctive and monetary relief and damages" after it was alleged to foster a "frat boy" workplace culture, in which female and marginalized employees were being the targets of harassment and discrimination.

A month later, Activision Blizzard was hit with another lawsuit after allegedly issuing  "materially false and misleading" statements to investors, by failing to disclose all of its legal matters. In addition to this, the company has also been accused of stifling the CDFEH lawsuit investigation by shredding documents. Now, a union group representing Activision Blizzard employees have filed a federal labour board complaint against the company, which accuses the company of "violating federal labour law through coercive rules, actions and statements."

Activision Blizzard staff file complaints over labour law violations

According to an article by Bloomberg, the complaint was formally filed by the Communications Workers of America union, in partnership with the "A Better ABK (Activision Blizzard King)" at the United States National Labour Relations Board (NLRB), where it was alleged that Activision Blizzard "threatened employees" to the point of being unable to "communicate about wages, hours and working conditions."

Activision Blizzard employees allege the company violated federal labour law by threatening and coercing employees
Activision Blizzard accused of violating federal labour law after allegedly threatening employee activism. (Picture: Activision Blizzard)

The complaint was apparently lodged on September 10th and included several other allegations against the company. Bloomberg reported that these allegations included:

  • Illegally prohibiting staff members from discussing any of the ongoing investigations
  • Threatening or disciplining employees because of their "protected concerted activity" (or rather, activism)
  • Deploying surveillance and interrogations of employees that were engaged in protected activism
  • Maintaining a social media policy that infringes on workers’ rights

Tom Smith, Organizing Director of the Communications Workers of America, said that "Management could have responded with humility and a willingness to take necessary steps to address the horrid conditions some ABK workers have faced."

Activision Blizzard employees allege the company violated federal labour law by threatening and coercing employees.
Activision Blizzard accused of violating federal labour law after allegedly threatening employee activism. (Picture: Activision Blizzard)

Smith added that instead, Activision Blizzard responded vehemently with "surveillance" and "intimidation." Referring to the law firm Wilmer-Hale, Smith continued by saying that the company also hired "union busters" to shut down union efforts to remedy the situation.

ABK noted that "if the NLRB rules in [their] favour, the ruling will be retroactive and [they] will set a precedent that no worker in the U.S. can be intimidated out of talking about forced arbitration."

Activision Blizzard is currently embroiled in controversy and the effects of the ongoing lawsuits are apparently damning. The company's public-facing image has been severely tarnished and the company stock price fell about 20% since the first lawsuit broke headlines.

Activision Blizzard stock prices plummet amid ongoing legal battles
Activision Blizzard stock prices plummet amid ongoing legal battles. (Picture: Google Finance)

The tumult at Activision Blizzard continues, despite concerted efforts by the company to remediate the situation. This included the name change of Overwatch hero McCree (a character referencing a former employee implicated in workplace misconduct) and after J Allen Brack (former studio president of Blizzard) resigned from his position last month.

Activision Blizzard has yet to release a statement in response to the federal board complaint. We endeavour to update you as soon as more information is released.

 

Don't forget to check out our general video games section for industry news, guides, leaks and much more.

Featured image courtesy of Activision Blizzard.