Blizzard Entertainment has officially issued a response after a former employee accused the company of “racial abuse and discrimination.”
Former employee Julian Murillo-Cuellar, who worked in the company’s e-sports department took to Twitter to accuse Blizzard of racial abuse. Murillo-Cuellar indicates he was “he victim of racial abuse and discrimination during April-December 2016.” During that time period Murillo-Cuellar claims he was working on “Blizzard Esports Team supporting Hearthstone and the Hearthstone Championship Tour.”
Real Reason why I left Blizzard Entertainment: Racial Abuse and Discrimination
— Jules M.C. (@Psychlolis) January 8, 2019
What are the Accusations?
The lengthy post details Cuellar’s viewpoint on the situation which began when he joined Blizzard back in 2016. He claims that a female employee by the name of Gemma Barreda for almost of the entity of the year, between February and December of 2016 engaged in harassment against him. He stated he was engaging in what she deemed was Mexican machismo and that he had a “natural inclination to be sexist” because of his ethnic background.
Here is the full section:
“It all changed when Gemma would joke about my sexism, or natural inclination to be sexist, due to my heritage: having been born Mexican and raised in Mexico, Gemma would experience ‘Mexican culture’ as an exchange student . . . The assumption then became that I was just like everyone else, and that my attitudes, beliefs were that of a Mexican machista (male chauvinist). I didn’t make much of this since she said it ‘in jest’ but this would weigh on me, and I would later confide in my Mrs.”
Cuellar explains it didn’t just end there or stop with Gemma’s views on Hispanic men. As time went on Barreda moved up in the company which he alleges allowed her to continue her harassment against him based on her assumptions of his cultural background.
“Gemma booked the meeting room next to Kim Phan’s office, the walls were paper thin, and I took the furthest seat from her. She revealed to me that going forward she would be responsible for handling my work, not Drew, and that all tasks needed to be done a certain way and I had to provide her with detailed breakdowns of what I was doing. This was news to me and I simply said, ‘This is news to me…’ realizing that I had said what I thought—she pounced and started to scream at me.
‘I don’t know what your problem is with me!’ A screaming Gemma would start as she launched her tirade at me, calling into question me, and how I was ‘questioning her, her authority’ because she was a woman. I was stunned because I was just finding out news that I had dreaded to find out: that she would be responsible for my job while she despised me.”
In his post, Cuellar details how the toxic environment and relationship with Gemma had taken a toll on his life. Not only that, but he explains his own marriage suffered as well as his personal life due to Barreda’s assumption regarding Hispanic men.
Cuellar indicates his physical health soon deteriorated and he took a medical leave. He details that his doctor considered him a suicide risk.
“Nobody will ever understand the anger I feel towards Blizzard Entertainment because they drove me to almost take my life countless of times.”
He goes on to reveal just why he decided to come out with his accusations when he did.
“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. 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 2 years—has the community had some representation and initiatives. But are we really represented?”
Blizzard Entertainment issued a response through Variety. Here is their full response:
“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. 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.
Employee and workplace health is also very important, and we offer different programs and opportunities that support employees, including health and wellness programs and counseling, both in the office (often provided for free) as well as through external professional providers.”
It’s not surprising that the company decided to not to comment about the specific issue and to instead speak about having an “inclusive” work environment.
Though speaking of their “health and wellness programs’ they opted to issue a statement that was more general than anything else.
All of this comes on the heels of major departures from the company, the underwhelming Diablo: Immortal announcement, and declining stock value. It seems that Blizzard Entertainment left 2018 in rough waters, and doesn’t seem to be able to escape it quite yet.
What do you make of Blizzard’s response? What about Cuellar’s accusations?