• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

Activision Blizzard sued in wrongful death case alleging sexual harassment led to suicide

The family of an Activision Blizzard employee who died by suicide in 2017 is suing the video game company in a wrongful-death case filed Thursday in Los Angeles,

Janet and Paul Moynihan, parents of a 32-year-old Activision Blizzard finance manager who died by suicide on a company trip, allege that sexual harassment was a “significant factor” in her death. Kerri Moynihan was found dead in a hotel room at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa in April 2017 after taking her own life.

A lawyer representing Paul and Janet Moynihan provided Polygon with a copy of the lawsuit but did not comment further. The Washington Post first reported the filing.

The lawsuit references Activision Blizzard’s alleged “hostile, intimidating, offensive, and abusive” workplace. It alleges that Activision Blizzard is liable in failing to prevent the harassment that led to her suicide. Moynihan’s death was referenced in the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) lawsuit filed last year, although she was not explicitly named. The lawsuit alleged that a female employee died by suicide on a company trip “due to a sexual relationship that she had been having with her male supervisor.” It was alleged that Moynihan faced sexual harassment at work before the trip, too — including an incident in which photos of Moynihan’s vagina were passed around at a company party. At the time of the DFEH filing, Activision Blizzard said it called the allegations in the lawsuit “distorted, and in many cases false.”

Moynihan began working at Activision Blizzard in 2011 as an accountant. The lawsuit says she was “a passionate and dedicated employee who worked extremely long hours and was well-liked by her colleagues.” In 2016, she was promoted to finance manager supporting Activision Blizzard’s Latin American operations, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit names Greg Restituito as Moynihan’s manager, and alleges that Restituito lied to investigators about having a sexual relationship with Moynihan. According to the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard also refused to give Moynihan’s work-issued laptop to police, and denied police access to Restituito’s work-issued cellphone, saying it had been “wiped.” Restituito worked for Activision Blizzard as a senior finance director from May 2016 to May 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile.

A police report is referenced in the lawsuit, which alleges that Restituito made “seemingly unusual inquiries with other employees who were present with [Kerri] the night preceding her death,” and also went to her apartment “and cleaned it and removed items from it.”

An Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Polygon that the company is “deeply saddened” by Moynihan’s death, saying she was a “valued member of the company.”

It continued: “We will address the complaint through the legal process as appropriate, and out of respect for the family we have no further comment at this time.”

In the months since the DFEH lawsuit, Activision Blizzard workers have called for CEO Bobby Kotick to resign — specifically following a Wall Street Journal report that uncovered the extent of Kotick’s knowledge regarding employee misconduct and sexual harassment. The company was also sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year before agreeing to an $18 million settlement. In January, Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, marking the largest acquisition in Microsoft’s history.

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