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Activision Blizzard Sued by California Over Sexual Harassment, Unequal Pay Claims

The gaming giant was "akin to working in a frat house" for women, according to a new lawsuit

Activision Blizzard, the gaming studio behind hit franchises like "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft," is said to have "fostered a sexist culture" that led to sexual harassment and gender discrimination, according to a new civil lawsuit against the company.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing, claims Activision Blizzard was "akin to working in a frat house." The alleged sexual harassment included inappropriate comments about women's bodies, rape jokes and unsolicited touching of female employees.

One example from the lawsuit: A female employee said her manager stated she wouldn't receive a promotion because "she might get pregnant and like being a mom too much." The lawsuit also claims women at the Santa Monica-based company were paid less than their male peers for the same work.

The DFEH lawsuit also claims Activision Blizzard's male employees would engage in "cube crawls" in which they drank "copious amounts of alcohol" while moving between office cubicles and engaging in "inappropriate behavior toward female employees."

Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment, but the company told NPR the DFEH did little to work through the claims with the company before filing its lawsuit; Activision Blizzard's spokesperson also said the company had been working to improve its corporate culture in recent years.

"The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past," the company said in a statement to NPR. "The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today."

The statement continued: "We are confident in our ability to demonstrate our practices as an equal opportunity employer that fosters a supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace for our people, and we are committed to continuing this effort in the years to come. It is a shame that the DFEH did not want to engage with us on what they thought they were seeing in their investigation."

The DFEH -- which says it investigated Activision Blizzard for two years prior to filing its lawsuit -- said the company's female employeees "almost universally confirmed" the claims.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.