Activision Blizzard Slapped With Another Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Activision Blizzard Slapped With Another Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Activision Blizzard Logo Under Microscope

Activision Blizzard has been hit with yet another sexual harassment lawsuit by an employee—adding to a mounting pile of complaints from employees, regulators and investors that could threaten the video game developer’s pending $69 billion merger with Microsoft.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on March 23, an anonymous plaintiff referred to as Jane Doe accused the Santa Monica-based company of enabling and failing to prevent workplace sexual harassment, as well as retaliating against her for reporting such behavior.

The complaint alleges that Doe was pressured to take tequila shots on her first day of work, experienced unwelcome touching and sexual comments from supervisors and began taking steps to avoid harassment at work—including dressing “more conservatively” and complaining to supervisors, only to be retaliated against.

Doe began working in Activision’s IT department in 2017 and still is employed by the company. She is represented by Los Angeles-based law firm The Bloom Firm and its founder Lisa Bloom, who previously represented women bringing sexual harassment claims against Bill O’Reilly and Bill Cosby and also advised disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

“This is really an astonishing level of sexual harassment at Activision, and I don't think any other company comes close,” Bloom told dot.LA. “This is a massive company with a massive sexual harassment problem. It is a problem that they have continued to ignore and stall, and the victims are suffering.”

More lawsuits from current and former Activision employees could be on the way: Bloom said she represents eight women with similar grievances to Jane Doe and expects more complaints to be filed in the near future. She explained that she’s avoiding lumping those complaints into one class action lawsuit, to ensure that each victim is adequately paid by the company instead of splitting damages.

Bloom said she’s requesting a jury trial and wants the opportunity to prove that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick should be fired for ignoring numerous complaints about the company’s toxic workplace culture. She added that if The Bloom Firm can prove that Kotick willingly took steps to protect harassers at Activision, it could bring a separate lawsuit directly against him.

“He seems to be utterly incompetent at resolving the sexual harassment crisis that plagues his company,” Bloom said.

A separate lawsuit against Activision was filed earlier this month by the parents of Kerri Moynihan, a former employee who died by suicide during a company retreat in April 2017. That lawsuit alleges that Moynihan killed herself because of the rampant sexual harassment she endured at the company.

Doe is requesting lost earnings, medical damages, punitive damages and several court orders—including one requiring her to receive a promotion she missed out on due to being retaliated against, one to establish a rotating human resources department at Activision and another ending forced arbitration at the company.

The lawsuit also calls for a third-party investigation into Activision’s handling of sexual harassment in its workplace. Bloom said that so far Activision has used its own lawyers to conduct such investigations, which has the effect of intimidating employees and essentially gives the company “free discovery” of facts and evidence before plaintiffs’ counsel.

“Every California employer, upon receiving a complaint of sexual harassment, has a legal obligation to do a prompt, thorough investigation, punish the perpetrators if they find sexual harassment happened [and] protect the victims,” Bloom said. “That has not happened.”

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.