As first reported by Megan Farokhmanesh and Stephen Totilo of Axios, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has expanded its lawsuit against Activision Blizzard to include contracted and temporary employees in addition to full-time staff.
Axios reported on Tuesday that in a new copy of the complaint they reviewed, the DFEH expanded the lawsuit to include protections for "employees and contingent or temporary workers." The lawsuit itself will reportedly be updated to change the term employees to workers throughout, in line with the extended definition of the lawsuit's applicable group.
According to a report from Polygon published earlier this month, contracted employees at Activision Blizzard claim to face "low pay, intense crunch, and mistreatment by customers" as a daily part of their working lives.
Workers particularly in the Quality Assurance department to Polygon that they feel "undervalued and exploited," with many employees characterizing their overtime hours and mandatory. A spokesperson from Activision Blizzard did, however, push back on those claims, telling Polygon "the majority of overtime for QA is voluntary."
“Job security [for contractors] is so uncertain that people feel the need to use these avenues to be seen and get in the gaming industry,” Activision Blizzard employee Jessica Gonzalez told Polygon. “The power imbalance created by these actions actively enables harm and psychological abuse towards QA. We believe in the product we work on, we love the games, we love the community. We love what we do. And I feel like that’s used to pay us low wages, to play with our livelihoods by dangling this full-time carrot over our heads for us to do whatever we can — do all the overtime we can — to be seen as the person that’s willing to do anything for the company. And then you get your contract extended.”
The workers facing those alleged conditions are now included in the ongoing lawsuit against Activision Blizzard.
DFEH adds new interference claims to lawsuit
Axios also reported on Tuesday that the DFEH is now accusing Activision Blizzard of shredding documents related to the lawsuit, though a spokesperson from the company denied this claim.
Additionally, the DFEH's new cause of action claims Activision Blizzard also interfered with their investigation by using NDAs to force employees to speak with the company before contacting the DFEH.
Activision Blizzard has faced significant backlash following the announcement of the DFEH lawsuit against them last month. As a result of the suit, multiple key figures at the company have been fired or stepped down, and the company is even facing a lawsuit from its own investors alleging that it misrepresented key facts about the DFEH lawsuit to them over the past several years.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.