Conservative watchdog group America First Legal (AFL) announced this week that its Center for Legal Equality has filed a formal civil rights complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and sent a cease-and-desist letter to Call of Duty and Overwatch 2 publisher Activision Blizzard “demanding” that the company stop using “gender and racial preferences in hiring and internship programs” and to focus instead on creating “shareholder value, not promote fringe political ideology.”
The 501(C)3 charity-designated organization founded by former Trump Administration-era Senior Advisor Stephen Miller and former Trump Administration-era Counselor to the Attorney General (2017-2021) Gene Hamilton, aims to “oppose the radical left’s anti-jobs, anti-freedom, anti-faith, anti-borders, anti-police, and anti-American crusade,” according to its mission statement.
The group has filed similar anti-woke (as it calls them) lawsuits against corporations in America such as Target and Kellogg’s. The group has also conducted investigations (it’s not clear what that process entails) and filed legal briefs related to several hot button issues in American politics including vaccinations, topics related to President Joe Biden, former President Trump’s multitude of indictments, and trans issues and anti-trans laws, among others.
In a release, AFL claims that “…Activision’s executives have jeopardized its reputation by mandating woke DEI principles into every aspect of their company, from hiring to game design.”
The group cites the recent controversy surrounding the removal of Nick “NICKMERCS” Kolcheff’s operator bundle from Call of Duty games following the popular content creator’s controversial remarks on Twitter about how school districts, school administrators, and teachers should “leave little children alone” when it comes to teaching them about LGBTIQA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual) topics or issues related to gender and sexuality.
In addition, the AFL takes umbrage with Activision Blizzard’s hiring practices that have focused in recent years on implementing and improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into its workforce. In its EEOC filing, AFL asks for an investigation, noting that these policies are being used to discriminate against certain people during the hiring process:
“Activision uses hiring, training, and promotion policies that discriminate because of race, color, religion, and sex, and has promised to continue doing so in the future to ‘balance’ its workforce’s immutable characteristics,” the AFL asserts in its letter, adding later, “Activision has mandated that internal and external talent recruitment teams create ‘diverse slates’ of job candidates, thereby limiting, segregating, or classifying applicants for employment in a way that deprives or tends to deprive or limit the employment opportunities of white, Asian, and Jewish males with the company.”
Given the ongoing, high-profile attempt by Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard for $69B USD, and the political climate as the country moves into an election year, many politically partisan organizations are finding ways to tap into the zeitgeist of conservative reaction to DEI and LGBTIQA+ issues in America currently, and/or as a play to generate buzz and possibly fundraise. You can read the cease-and-desist letter to Activision here, and its formal complaint with the EEOC here.