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February 21, 2020
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Blizzard states importance of 'inclusive' workplace after discrimination allegations

Blizzard states importance of 'inclusive' workplace after discrimination allegations

January 10, 2019 | By Chris Kerr

January 10, 2019 | By Chris Kerr
More: Business/Marketing

Overwatch developer Blizzard has reiterated the importance of maintaining an "inclusive and respectful work environment" after a former employee made some concerning allegations against the studio. 

Earlier this week, Jules Murillo-Cuellar wrote a TwitLonger post revealing he left Blizzard's Esports Team after being subjected to racial discrimination during his time at the company. 

In the lengthy write-up, Murillo-Cuellar details the bullying and racial abuse he suffered from April to December of 2016, and recalls how the Blizzard hierarchy failed to help despite the fact he repeatedly raised his concerns with supervisors and HR. 

While at Blizzard, Murillo-Cuellar claims his co-workers regularly made discriminatory comments and jokes about his Mexican ethnicity, suggesting he had a "natural inclination to be sexist" because of his heritage. 

Murillo-Cuellar alleges those sort of interactions, which escalated during his time at the company, eventually resulted in him being branded "difficult to work with" and "not a team player" in his end of year review — even after he'd spoken with multiple managers within the Esport Team about his experiences.

With the situation spiraling out of control, Murillo-Cuellar says his health eventually began to suffer, and he started experiencing panic attacks, stomach issues, and eventually suicidal thoughts. 

It's an account that makes for hard reading, but despite the seriousness of Murillo-Cuellar's claims, Blizzard has now told Variety that fostering a safe working environment is one of its top priority. 

"While the company does not comment on individual personnel issues, we can share that having an inclusive and respectful work environment is extremely important to us. We have a policy against harassment and discrimination and take reports of inappropriate behavior very seriously," said the company in a statement. 

"There are a number of methods for employees to come forward should they experience or observe any inappropriate behavior. All claims of alleged harassment and discrimination which are brought to our attention are investigated, and we take action where appropriate. We strive to create an inclusive and respectful work environment that reflects Blizzard’s core values in everything we do."

Murillo-Cuellar, however, believes the company's apparent commitment to inclusion and representation is an empty gesture, and said he decided to share his story after seeing the recent Soldier 76 announcement -- where the studio revealed the Overwatch character is the game's second LGBTQ hero.

"I write this today because the Soldier 76 announcement and subsequent tweets I did triggered me. The reason why it triggered me wasn’t the message, but who it was coming from: Blizzard Entertainment," he wrote.

"The idea of inclusion, of representation, and “every voice matters” and “think globally” never meant that for me and other people of color I have spoken to. Because up until recently -- in the last two years -- has the community had some representation and initiatives. But are we really represented? 

"This is my closure. Most people didn’t know why I departed Blizzard Entertainment, but I couldn’t stand idly while others didn’t have the slightest clue why my vitriol towards a company I truly loved and that I poured everything to only be shown the backdoor. I had filed the federal complaint, this is public knowledge, and nobody can tell me I cannot share what happened to me personally."

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