Does a toxic workplace culture constitute harassment?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2021 | blog |

This summer, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against the video game company Activision Blizzard. The legal claim cited the “frat boy” culture of sexual harassment and lower wages reported by female workers at the firm.

Review the details of this news story to learn more about the types of toxic behavior that may constitute legal harassment.

Understanding the Activision harassment case

As reported by the Washington Post, some of the allegations against Activision Blizzard include:

  • “Cube crawls” that involved drinking alcohol and making unwanted comments about women in the office
  • Use of lactation rooms for meetings when needed by nursing mothers
  • Gender differences in treatment of break time, with male employees gaming on the clock while female employees received reprimands for brief walks or time out of the office
  • Open sexual jokes and comments
  • Fewer promotion opportunities for women, particularly at the leadership level
  • Lower starting salaries for female employees
  • Stricter management and higher expectations for Black female employees

This information reflects how outright sex discrimination often coexists with a culture of harassment, both prohibited by state and federal law.

Responding to workplace harassment

Employees experiencing discrimination and harassment at work should carefully document the details of each encounter. They can submit these records if they decide to make a complaint to the state DFEH.

The agency recommends reviewing your workplace’s sexual harassment policy (if applicable) and following the requirements therein. When you file a California complaint, your complaint also reaches federal employment authorities. You should call 911 if you experience sexual assault at work.