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Activision Blizzard has been accused of discriminating against “old white guys”

A former Activision Blizzard executive has filed a discrimination claim with the company, alleging it of discriminating against “old white guys”.

As reported by Law360 and spotted by our sister site, GamesIndustry.biz, the complaint includes allegations against former CEO Bobby Kotick for remarks he made at an unspecified leadership conference in which he reportedly said that the “problem” at ABK was that “there are too many old white guys”.

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The filing – lodged by a 57-year-old white man who worked at the company from 2014 until he was laid off as part of the company’s restructure in late 2023 – says that shortly after hearing these comments, a pair of white executives left “based, at least in part, on Kotick’s ageist remarks”, adding that “Activision placed profits over people by terminating the older, higher-paid executives”.

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The executive maintains that he was passed over for promotion after said executives quit even though he was recommended for the position, and said the younger, non-white employee who went on to be his manager created a hostile work environment, which detrimentally impacted the employee’s merit-based salary increase.

The executive then filed complaints with HR, accusing the company of failing “to protect Plaintiff from the discriminatory and defamatory accusations” from his colleagues but says his complaint was “ignored and he was not taken seriously”.

When the complainant was laid off from a team of 200 in August 2023, he says he was one of seven men aged 47 or older who were made redundant at that time.

The plaintiff further alleges that the company has violated California’s whistleblowing protection laws.

The man bringing the legal action asks for lost earnings and compensation for reputational damage, emotional distress, wrongful termination, and damages for the alleged negative impact this has had on his career advancement. He also expects ABK to pay his legal costs.

After its reporting, GI.biz was contacted by Activision Blizzard and referred to its equal employment opportunity policy.

Last month, Activision Blizzard agreed to pay over £44 million to settle a 2021 sex discrimination lawsuit.

Further to an agreement made with the California Civil Rights Department (CCRD) regarding unequal employment practices on the basis of sex, the megacorp has agreed to pay £44.1m ($56m) to settle claims of unequal pay and promotion practices between 2015-2020. £36.85m ($46.75m) will be shared between female claimants who claim that they were unfairly paid, and £7.1m ($9.1m) will cover associated legal fees.

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