Federal labor prosecutors in California plan to file a complaint against Activision Blizzard for illegally threatening workers if the company doesn't agree to a settlement, according to National Labor Relations Board spokesperson Kayla Blado.
The NLRB found merit in charges filed against the company by the Communications Workers of America union in November 2021, according to Blado. The original charge from CWA attorneys alleged that Activision Blizzard tried to prevent employees from talking about wages, hours and working conditions and also tried to control their social media communications, both of which could violate labor laws.
The company has been hit with additional labor complaints from CWA attorneys, including an April 2022 filing that also claimed the company was threatening workers who spoke publicly about protected issues.
“These allegations are false. Employees may and do talk freely about these workplace issues without retaliation, and our social media policy expressly incorporates employees’ NLRA rights," an Activision Blizzard spokesperson wrote in an email to Protocol. "Our social media policy explicitly says that it ‘does not restrict employees from engaging in the communication of information protected by law, including for example, rights of employees in the United States protected by the National Labor Relations Act.'" The company also said that it has not yet been informed of the director's findings.
Activision Blizzard has been mired in legal battles with shareholders and federal and state regulators since parallel state and federal investigations found that the company fostered a "frat house" culture that tolerated sexual harassment, assault and gender discrimination. The lawsuits in turn spurred a wave of worker activism, walkouts, protests and a union campaign from the CWA.
Activision Blizzard settled one lawsuit with federal regulators at the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission in March 2022 against the wishes of state investigators at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, who have been leading a parallel investigation. Former Activision Blizzard employee Jessica Gonzalez filed an appeal against that settlement Monday.
"Under the current EEOC settlement, workers who apply to be claimants would be barred from suing Activision Blizzard for future settlements — essentially protecting the company from any future legal accountability," a CWA spokesperson wrote in a press release announcing the appeal.