Employees at Activision Blizzard have filed a complaint alleging that the gaming company engaged in unfair labor practices when they attempted to organize in the wake of widespread harassment and discrimination allegations.
According to a complaint, the California-based gaming company “threatened employees that they would not be able to talk about or communicate about wages, hours, or working conditions,” as well as “surveillance” and “interrogation” of employees advocating for better working conditions.
The charge was filed with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a prominent media workers’ union, both of which shared a copy of the complaint with CNN Business.
A request for comment from Activision Blizzard (ATVI) was not immediately returned.
CWA said in a statement on Tuesday that the company engaged in “worker intimidation and union busting.”
“Activision Blizzard’s response to righteous worker activity was surveillance, intimidation, and hiring notorious union busters,” CWA’s national organizing director Tom Smith said in a statement. “We have filed these charges to ensure that the actions of ABK management will not go unanswered,” he added. (It was not immediately clear how many employees backed the complaint; CWA declined to comment beyond its statement.)
It’s the latest twist in a story that has seen US government officials scrutinize Activision Blizzard for months, as well as internal dissent.
The backlash began in July, when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit.
Multiple female employees were subjected to gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and unequal pay, according to the lawsuit, and “the company’s executives and human resources personnel knew of the harassment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful conduct, instead retaliating against women who complained.”
In the aftermath of the lawsuit, several former Activision Blizzard employees began sharing their stories on social media, but the company’s attempt to downplay the suit’s claims prompted more than 2,000 current and former employees to sign a petition calling the response “abhorrent and insulting.”
In a note to employees, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick admitted that the company’s initial response had been “tone deaf” and that the company was hiring an outside law firm to investigate the claims.
Nonetheless, dozens of employees staged a walkout at the company’s Irvine, California, headquarters, with hundreds more joining virtually. Greater pay transparency and the elimination of mandatory arbitration were among the demands.
Last month, Activision Blizzard COO Daniel Alegre informed employees that J. Allen Brack, president of the company’s Blizzard Entertainment studio, would be leaving his position.
Activision Blizzard announced two high-profile new hires on Tuesday, including Julia Hodges, a former Disney HR executive who will join as chief people officer. Hodges will “assist in leading our ongoing commitment to an inclusive workplace,” according to Kotick.