Video game publisher Activision illegally threatened its staff, US agency says

WASHINGTON, May 23 (Reuters) – Video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc (ATVI.O) enforced a social media policy that violates workers’ rights and unlawfully threatened staff in enforcing the policy, a a US government agency announced on Monday.

Unless Activision settles, the regional director of the Los Angeles-based National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will file a complaint, an NLRB spokesperson said in a statement.

The NLRB had reviewed allegations brought to the agency last September by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union.

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The announcement came the same day a small group of Activision employees at a Wisconsin studio that works on the popular “Call of Duty” franchise voted to join the CWA. Read more

The union has increasingly focused in recent years on organizing unorganized workers in the tech and video game industries.

Video game maker “Call of Duty” said Monday that the allegations were false.

“These allegations are false. Employees can and do speak freely about these issues in the workplace without retaliation, and our social media policy expressly incorporates the NLRA rights of employees,” a company spokesperson said. .

“Our Social Media Policy explicitly states that it “does not preclude employees from engaging in disclosure of information protected by law, including, for example, employee rights in the United States protected by national labor relations law,” the spokesperson said.

Over the past few months, Activision Blizzard workers have banded together to try to influence the future of the company, including organizing a strike and circulating a petition calling for the removal of CEO Bobby Kotick. Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) announced its intention to acquire Activision in January. Read more

The company’s labor issues come as it also faces complaints from a California civil rights agency of widespread discrimination against female employees. Activision denied wrongdoing and said the agency failed to thoroughly investigate the workers’ discrimination complaints before proceeding.

Activision had faced similar claims from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which it settled in March for $18 million. Read more

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Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington and Daniel Wiessner in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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