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Activision Blizzard ordered to give California regulators its pay equity studies

Activision Blizzard failed to give evidence saying there aren't gender pay issues at the company, and now it has to submit its findings to California's regulators.

A new ruling in California's lawsuit against Activision Blizzard dictates that the publisher has to hand over its study of pay equity to state legislators. 

Last year, the California Department of Fair Employment sued Activision Blizzard during the initial allegations of a toxic workplace culture. The Department referred to the company as a "frat house" and alleged that women at the company were unfairly and routinely denied promotion opportunities.

As spotted by Kotaku's Ethan Gach, the judge's ruling states that Activision Blizzard must now "provide code-compliant responses without objection, other than attorney-client privilege and work-product protection, to support its denials of the allegations (i) in paragraphs 32 to 34 of the first amended complaint, including the identification of the 'recent pay equity analysis.'"

Those lines of the lawsuit allege that the Call of Duty publisher would offer its women employees lower starting pay and fewer job opportunities than male employees. Lesser pay continued throughout the careers of women at the studio, and the lawsuit alleges that the pattern continued beyond its initial investigation.  Court documents further allege that Activision Blizzard had yet to provide any substantial evidence to dispute these claims, leading to the judge's decision today.

The consequences of this ruling continue to shine a light on Activision Blizzard's workplace culture. Throughout 2021 and 2022, current and former staff for the publisher have attempted to change the workplace culture themselves, either through establishing diversity committees or making demands to end the company's gender inequity. In late July, employees staged a walkout after the company's tepid response to the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Earlier this year, the game publisher also faced allegations of union-busting practices following unionization discussions within the QA department at subsidiary Raven Software.

Amidst all of this, the publisher's acquisition by Microsoft is still on track to completion. The media labor union Communications Workers of America, which collaborated with Raven Software on its union formation, gave its approval of the acquisition to the FTC in early July, and various regulators across the world are in the process of approval as well. 

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