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Former Blizzard employee alleges racism and discrimination drove him to leave

Jules Murillo-Cueller says abuse triggered panic attacks, nervous breakdowns and even plans for suicide

An ex-employee of Blizzard Entertainment has written about his experiences of working on the firm's esports team, claiming that racism and other forms of abuse forced him to depart last year.

In a TwitLonger post, Jules Murillo-Cueller said he has already filed a federal complaint over his treatement and reached out to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He has now shared his experience more publicly to "finally get closure" and to "tell my story as a minority who was abused and later failed by leadership."

Murillo-Cueller joined Blizzard back in 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile, but his ordeal began when joining the Hearthstone Esports Team -- which handles operations and tournaments for the popular digital card game -- in 2016.

After gaining a full-time position on the team, he claims he was left out of meetings and calls about important components of the then-current tour, and that a colleague would "joke about my sexism, or natural inclination to be sexist, due to my [Mexican] heritage."

"The assumption because 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."

He continues that the "jokes" about his "machismo" and being Mexican would "only become more frequent", and he was eventually diagnosed with major depression and anxiety.

A few months after joining the team, he spoke to his manager about his treatment.

"I was told I was being moody, and that nobody knew how to approach me... When I told him what was happening I was told to not pay attention and that he would take care of it. That wouldn't be the case and the racial attacks continued."

Murillo-Cueller felt he had "become the team's punching bag" and was still being left out of key meetings. He also alleges that his "instrumental" contributions to Hearthstone esports activities in 2016 was completely omitted during an internal review, while both his manager and the colleague that led the abuse received promotions.

Combined with how regularly he would work into the early hours of the morning, this began to take its toll on Murillo-Cueller's health. Over the following two years, he would suffer regular panic attacks and multiple nervous breakdowns, developed post-traumatic stress disorder, and even began to consider suicide at various points -- culminating in an attempt in December 2017.

He would raise concerns with superiors on a weekly basis, but little to nothing was done to address them.

Murillo-Cueller left Blizzard in April 2018, going on to briefly work at Rocket League developrer Psyonix before setting up his own firm, Muri Entertainment.

Murillo-Cueller finishes by adding his decision to share his story was in part triggered by this week's revelation that Overwatch character Soldier 76 is gay, continuing Blizzard's long-running stance that the multiplayer shooter can be a beacon of diversity.

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

"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."

[UPDATE]: A Blizzard representative responded to a request for comment, saying, "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."

If you have been affected by some of these issues, there are sources of support. In the UK, you can contact the Samaritans by calling 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

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