Gaming giant Activision is taking Netflix to court over what the Call of Duty company says is a pattern of unethical and illegal behaviour on the streaming company’s part for poaching executives. This is all related to Spencer Neumann, the former Activision CFO who left the gaming company in 2018 to join Netflix as its top finance executive.
In its lawsuit, which was obtained by Deadline, Activision said, “Netflix unapologetically recruits talent without regard to its ethical and legal obligations. To shape its workforce to its desires, Netflix not only ruthlessly fires its own employees that it deems ‘adequate,’ but is engaged in a years-long campaign of unlawfully poaching executives from Netflix’s competitors regardless of their contractual obligations.”
Activision claims Netflix is disregarding California law, including the Labor Code, with its actions. According to Activision, Netflix “knowingly induced Neumann to breach his employment contract with Activision.”
“Making matters worse, Netflix engaged in its tortious conduct when Activision–with Neumann’s assistance–was negotiating with Netflix over a commercial partnership to distribute Activision’s linear media content,” Activision said. “Netflix then proceeded to induce Neumann to breach his fiduciary obligations to Activision, thereby obtaining yet another an unfair and unethical advantage over Activision, one of Netflix’s competitors.”
Activision’s lawsuit goes on to say that this behavior with Neumann was not an isolated incident. The gaming company says, “Netflix has a demonstrated pattern of caring only about attracting and employing whoever Netflix wants, regardless of whether it violates the law along the way.”
Activision is seeking a permanent injunction for Netflix for soliciting Activision’s employees who are under contract or from inducing them to break their contracts. Activision also wants to be paid compensatory damages, consequential damages, and punitive and/or statutory damages.