California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has accused Activision Blizzard of shredding documents related to the ongoing lawsuit, and has further claimed that the company is interfering with their investigations (via Axios).
As such, the DFEH has added an 11th cause of action to its lawsuit, accusing Activision Blizzard of failing to preserve documents related to the lawsuit. Specifically, it claims that documents have been “shredded by human resource personnel.”
The DFEH asserts that this is in legal violation of the company’s obligation to retain them pending the investigation.
Activision Blizzard has to “maintain and preserve any and all relevant records and files until such complaint is fully and finally disposed of and all appeals from related proceedings have concluded,” says the DFEH.
“DFEH is […] informed and aware that documents and records have not been maintained as required by law, or by the DFEH’s Document Retention Notice, including but not limited to documents related to investigations and complaints were shredded by human resources personnel and emails are deleted 30 days after an employee’s separation.”
The lawsuit now also claims that the “defendants’ failure to retain records that it was required to make and maintain under state and federal law is continuing,” stating that Activision Blizzard has violated the California Code of Regulations and the government’s Labor Code.
The DFEH claims that it issued a Document Retention Notice to Activision Blizzard alongside its initial lawsuit, which notified the company of its obligations to “not destroy, conceal, or alter any documents or data relevant” to the case.
The complaint also states that Activision Blizzard’s decision to hire law firm WilmerHale to review the company’s practices is interfering with their investigation. By telling employees to speak directly to WilmerHale, Activision Blizzard has “directly [interfered]” its ability to investigate, the DFEH claims.
According to the complaint, Activision Blizzard also “refused to produce documents regarding complaints and investigations of discrimination and harassment by asserting that they did not exist or that they were privileged and confidential because attorneys were involved in the receipt of complains and the investigation.”
The language throughout the complaint has also been altered, changing references of “employees” to “workers,” showing that the lawsuit has expanded to include temporary workers as well as full-time staff. In addition to this, the complaint now specifically mentions employment protections such as anti-harassment and equal pay that exist “for employees and contingent or temporary workers.”
In response to these new allegations, Activision Blizzard sent a statement to IGN.
“Throughout our engagement with the DFEH, we have complied with every proper request in support of its review even as we had been implementing reforms to ensure our workplaces are welcoming and safe for every employee. Those changes continue today, and include:
– Several high-level personnel changes;
– Revamped hiring and recruiting practices requiring diverse interview panels;
– Greater transparency on pay equity;
– Expanded and improved training and investigative capabilities for human resource and compliance staff;
– Created investigation teams outside of business units to support greater independence;
– Restructured divisions to support greater accountability;
– Enhanced review processes to include evaluation of managers by employees;
– Clear boundaries on workplace behavior with a zero-tolerance approach to harassment and other actions that diminish or marginalize.
“We strive to be a company that recognizes and celebrates the diverse talents and perspectives that lead to the creation of great, globally appealing entertainment. We have provided the DFEH with clear evidence that we do not have gender pay or promotion disparities. Our senior leadership is increasingly diverse, with a growing number of women in key leadership roles across the company. We share DFEH’s goal of a safe, inclusive workplace that rewards employees equitably and are committed to setting an example that others can follow.”
The company spokesperson later updated the statement to deny the accusations of document shredding, stating:
“With regards to claims that we have destroyed information by shredding documents, those claims are not true. We took appropriate steps to preserve information relevant to the DFEH investigation.”