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Photo: Megan Farokhmanesh, Axios

A current Blizzard employee and her prominent lawyer held a press conference outside of Blizzard’s Irvine, Calif. headquarters Wednesday, detailing harassment allegations and calling for a victims fund “in excess of $100 million.”

Why it matters: It was another first in the Activision Blizzard workplace abuse scandal, which has already seen some of the game industry’s most significant and unprecedented labor actions.

  • Now there's the involvement of Lisa Bloom, a lawyer and former Harvey Weinstein adviser who previously represented accusers of former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.

The details: Bloom introduced attendees to Christine, a four-year Blizzard veteran whose last name was not provided due to privacy concerns.

  • Christine described years of harassment at the studio: “I've been subjected to rude comments about my body, unwanted sexual advances, inappropriately touched, subjected to alcohol-infused team events and cube crawls, invited to have casual sex with my supervisors, and surrounded by a frat boy culture that's detrimental to women.”
  • She said she was initially brushed off when she complained and was later demoted.

Bloom’s press conference was full of strong words but was sparsely attended.

  • Onlookers included a handful of reporters, some activists and a contingent of Blizzard PR people.
  • Bloom had hyped the press conference the day before and live-streamed it on Instagram.

After Christine shared her account, Bloom listed three demands, including an apology, an independent audit and an increase in the company’s victims fund.

  • The $18 million offered in a proposed settlement between the game maker and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is “woefully inadequate,” she said.

What they’re saying: An Activision representative said the company was unable to address specific questions about how Christine was treated or about Bloom’s demands by press time.

  • But they provided a broader statement that said, in part: “We appreciate the courage of our current and former employees in coming forward with reports of misconduct, and we are truly sorry for any victims of people whose conduct did not live up to our values.”
  • “We are in the process of implementing significant changes and improvements to the scope, structure and efficiency of our compliance and human resources teams, reporting systems and transparency into our investigation process.”

What’s next: It’s unclear what Bloom’s next move will be or if she’ll wind up representing more alleged victims, as she did in the matter that led to O’Reilly’s Fox News ouster.

  • She encouraged more to come forward.
  • Meanwhile, new developments are possible this week and next in the state and federal misconduct lawsuits against Activision Blizzard, as the parties involved are scheduled to meet to discuss next steps.

Go deeper

Organizers slam Activision Blizzard for “union busting”

Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Activision Blizzard is asking employees to “take time to consider the consequences” of workers’ recent efforts to unionize, a tactic some organizers are calling "union busting."

Driving the news: Chief administrative officer Brian Bulatao sent an internal email on Friday, claiming that employees signing union cards “will have signed over to [the Communications Workers of America] the exclusive right to ‘represent [you]’...that means your ability to negotiate all your own working conditions will be turned over to CWA.”

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
46 mins ago - Health

Health care workers hit new breaking point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The ranks of health care workers are dwindling and stretching what it means to be reaching their "breaking points," particularly at small nonprofit hospitals.

The big picture: Even as Omicron cases have begun to wane in some places, many hospitals are still fielding a crush of patients amid record employee callouts.

Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial

Sarah Palin. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, delaying the start of her defamation trial against the New York Times.

Why it matters: The trial will be closely watched, as it's a rare instance of a major media company defending its editorial practices before an American jury.