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The ‘Bro Culture’ In Gaming Faces Harsh Reality In California

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2021 | Workplace Discrimination

Gaming’s “Bro Culture” recently took a big hit in California. State Regulators have targeted enforcement actions at two of the biggest players in the video game industry: Activision Blizzard and Riot Games. The investigations into the two companies are a strong show of state force to eliminate workplace bias and discrimination.

The Civil Rights Act and various other federal and state laws ensure that all citizens have equal protection, regardless of race, creed, gender, age, sexuality, and other protected characteristics. An employer, government agency, or any other institution cannot infringe upon these civil rights. The Los Angeles civil rights attorneys at Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation are here to defend these rights.

Bro No More

The investigations conducted by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) have already resulted in a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment. The DFEH does not usually pursue these types of cases in court.

“It is a powerful signal to the gaming industry of the standards it will apply to other cases across California,” said Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, an organization focused on gender civil rights in the workplace.

This “signal” is not only being sent to the gaming world, but it also gives hope to the workers in the gaming industry who have experienced inappropriate workplace conduct. The move sets a precedent for other states’ civil rights and employment regulators.

The DFEH usually enforces California laws regarding discrimination, violence, and human trafficking. The agency can now intervene in cases such as this by focusing state resources on bias and harassment, exposing these issues to the light, and setting standards by changing public policy.

California has implemented stringent laws addressing harassment and discrimination with unambiguous definitions concerning sexual harassment. California also has strong prohibitions in place against retaliation. The California Fair Pay Act of 2015 gives teeth to these anti-discrimination laws.

In the last few years, the DFEH has made strides including the following to eliminate gaming’s discriminatory and harassing behavior:

  • In 2018: The DFEH opened an investigation into allegations of harassment, discrimination, and assault at Riot Games.
  • In 2020: The DFEH partnered with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to block Riot Games from settling for $10 million with female employees, claiming it should be at least $400 million to compensate the pay of disparaged and harassed employees.
  • In July: The DFEH sued Activision Blizzard, alleging they promoted a “frat boy” work culture. Activision Blizzard workers signed petitions and staged walkouts protesting sexual harassment.
  • Last month: The DFEH compelled Riot Games through the court to notify employees that they could cooperate with the DFEH’s probe. They also accused Riot Games of offering secret settlements to prevent employees from talking to regulators.

When Should I Contact A Lawyer?

It is simple—discrimination and sexual harassment are intolerable and illegal. In some cases, the incidents are blatant and brazen. In other cases, these offenses can be subtly hidden in day-to-day workplace operations. In either situation, the problem needs to be identified and corrected.

We are a qualified team of civil rights attorneys with the skill and experience to give our clients the respect they deserve and fight for the compensation they are entitled to.

Contact the Los Angeles civil rights attorneys at Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation for a free consultation by clicking here or calling us at 818-783-5757.