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Activision Blizzard sued over claims sexual harassment contributed to employee’s death

The parents of an Activision Blizzard employee who died by suicide during a company retreat in 2017 are suing the company for wrongful death, according to a report by The Washington Post. Paul and Janet Moynihan, the parents of Kerri Moynihan, a 32-year-old finance manager at Activision Blizzard, allege sexual harassment was a “significant factor” contributing to her death. Investigators ruled Moynihan’s death a suicide after she was found dead in a hotel room at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa in April 2017.

As noted by The Post, Moynihan was anonymously referenced in the lawsuit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) last July, which sued Activision Blizzard for allegedly fostering a toxic culture of “constant sexual harassment.” The DFEH’s complaint claims her male co-workers passed around a photo of her vagina at a holiday party before her death. When the suit was filed, Activision Blizzard said the DFEH’s allegations were “distorted, and in many cases false.”

A copy of the new lawsuit viewed by The Post claims Activision Blizzard “fostered and permitted a work environment in which sexual harassment was pervasive” and that it failed “to prevent such harassment.” It also accuses Moynihan’s boss, Greg Restituito, of hiding his sexual relationship with Moynihan to investigators. Restituito worked as Activision Blizzard’s senior finance director until May 2017, one month after Moynihan died by suicide.

According to the suit, Activision Blizzard allegedly refused to give police access to both Moynihan and Restituito’s company-issued phones and laptops during the investigation of Moynihan’s death.

Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in controversy since last year’s lawsuit. Months after employees staged a walkout to protest workplace discrimination, The Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell report alleging Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has been aware of rampant sexual misconduct at the company — Kotick still remains the CEO after employees and shareholders called for his resignation. In January, Microsoft announced its forthcoming acquisition of Activision Blizzard, with Kotick remaining as the company’s CEO until the deal closes sometime in 2023.

The Verge reached out to Activision Blizzard with a request for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.

Disclosure: Casey Wasserman is on the board of directors for Activision Blizzard as well as the board of directors of Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.

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