Activision Blizzard workers accuse company of violating federal labor law

Activision Blizzard is facing still more legal action over its labor practices. As Game Developerreports, Activision Blizzard workers and the Communication Workers of America have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the game developer of using coercion (such as threats) and interrogation. While the filing doesn’t detail the behavior, the employee group ABetterABK claimed Activision Blizzard tried to intimidate staff talking about forced arbitration for disputes.

Companies sometimes include employment clauses requiring arbitration in place of lawsuits. The approach typically favors businesses as arbitrations are often quicker than lawsuits, deny access to class actions and, most importantly, keep matters private. Work disputes are less likely to reach the public eye and prompt systemic change. Tech firms like Microsoft have ended arbitration for sexual harassment claims precisely to make sure those disputes are transparent and prevent harassers from going unchecked.

© Allen J. Schaben via Getty Images Irvine, CA – July 28: Several hundred Activision Blizzard employees stage a walkout which they say is in a response from company leadership to a lawsuit highlighting alleged harassment, inequality, and more within the company outside the gate at Activision Blizzard headquarters on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Irvine, CA. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

It’s not clear how Activision Blizzard intends to respond. We’ve asked the company about the complaint. The NLRB has yet to say if it will take up the case.

The gaming giant has taken some action in response to California’s sexual harassment lawsuit, dismissing three senior designers and a Blizzard president after they were referenced in the case. It has so far been reluctant to discuss structural changes, though. The NLRB complaint might intensify the pressure for reform, and certainly won’t help Activision Blizzard’s image.

If the NLRB rules in our favor, the ruling will be retroactive and we will set a precedent that no worker in the US can be intimidated out of talking about forced arbitration.

— ABetterABK (@ABetterABK) September 14, 2021

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