Activision Blizzard targeted by NLRB complaint

The CWA filed the complaint alleging that Activision Blizzard is retaliating against employees who are discussing working conditions at the company.

Activision Blizzard has been targeted by a complaint from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). According to a report from The Verge last week, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed a complaint alleging that the company is attempting to silence all discussion regarding working conditions there. This includes mentioning the ongoing “sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit filed by the state of Califonia,” according to The Verge.

The complaint reads: "Within the last six months, the above-named employer through a manager has threatened employees that they should not discuss issues concerning wages hours and working conditions on Slack.”

In California, workers’ rights to discuss workplace conditions are legally protected by Labor Code section 232.5, which “...prohibits an employer from discharging or retaliating against an employee who discusses or discloses information about the employer’s working conditions.” If the CWA’s complaint is true, then Activision Blizzard was clearly in violation of this Code.

For business attorney Richard Hoeg of Hoeg Law in Michigan, Activision Blizzard could be justified in attempting to silence talk of the lawsuit if employees needed to use company computers or equipment to do so, but that is dependent on how such policies--if they exist--are worded.

“It looks like Activision is trying to say don’t talk about the lawsuits, which could be justified if the employees would have to use Activision computers or services to do it (and may be justified if it’s a neutral rule against non work related conversations intended to ensure that employees focus on their work--depending on how it is framed), but the general rule is that employees have to be permitted to discuss workplace conditions, so it’s a very ‘facts and circumstances’ based inquiry,” Hoeg told GameDaily.

The CWA is just the latest development in an eventful couple of years for Activision Blizzard. Besides the harassment suit and the subsequent walkout, the company has been grappling with the Raven Software QA strike and imminent union vote. Then, earlier this year, it was acquired by Microsoft in a surprise $68.7 billion transaction.

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Sam, the Editor-in-Chief of GameDaily.biz, is a former freelance game reporter. He's been seen at IGN, PCGamesN, PCGamer, Unwinnable, and many more. When not writing about games, he is most likely taking care of his two dogs or pretending to know a lot about artisan coffee. Get in touch with Sam by emailing him at  sdesatoff@rektglobal.com or follow him on Twitter.