(Bloomberg) -- More than 2,000 current and former Activision Blizzard Inc. employees have signed a letter calling the company’s responses to a recent discrimination lawsuit “abhorrent and insulting.”
The new letter, which was reviewed by Bloomberg, was circulated Monday following a turbulent week for the publisher behind games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
Last week, the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment filed an explosive lawsuit against Activision Blizzard that alleged sexual discrimination, harassment and retaliation. In response, a spokesman for the company called the allegations false and distorted. A subsequent email from Activision executive Frances Townsend described the suit’s claims as “factually incorrect, old and out of context.”
But dozens of current and former employees, particularly at the Irvine, California-based subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment, have come out on social media in support of the lawsuit’s claims and shared their own allegations of discrimination. Internally, some Blizzard employees have been fuming and pushing back against what they see as legitimate grievances against the company’s culture, according to employees who asked not to be identified. Activision Blizzard had 9,500 employees at the end of last year.
“Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action -- and the troubling official responses that followed -- we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests,” the letter says. “To claim this is a ‘truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,’ while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable.”
The full letter:
To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard,
We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action -- and the troubling official responses that followed -- we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable.
We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees -- as well as our community -- have a safe place to speak out and come forward.
We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community, who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.
(Updates the signatory count in the first paragraph.)
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