Activision Blizzard employees decry 'abhorrent' company response to harassment lawsuit

More than 800 workers want "immediate" corrective action from the publisher.

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UKRAINE - 2021/06/18: In this photo illustration, Activision Blizzard logo of a video game company is seen on a smartphone screen in front of Blizzard Entertainment logo. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Employees at Activision Blizzard are calling on the company to issue a new statement in response to the lawsuit it’s facing from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). If you’ve been following the saga since it broke earlier in the month, you may recall the company brushed off allegations that it had fostered a “frat boy” workplace culture, claiming the lawsuit included “distorted, and in many cases false descriptions of Blizzard’s past.”

Now, in a letter obtained by Polygon, a group of more than 800 Activision Blizzard employees say the statement the company issued was “abhorrent and insulting,” and they’re demanding leadership undertake “immediate” corrective action. “Categorizing the claims that have been made as ‘distorted, and in many cases false’ creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims,” the letter states. “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 group specifically calls out the message Frances Townsend, executive vice president of corporate affairs at the publisher, sent to employees after the news broke. In the leaked email, Townsend claims the lawsuit DFEH filed presents “a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old and out of context stories — some from more than a decade ago.” According to Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, the response had some workers “fuming.” The group that signed the letter is calling on Townsend to step down as executive sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network.

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The timing of the letter comes after Activision Blizzard reportedly held an ‘all-hands’ meeting with 500 employees. The Zoom call was supposed to include the entire studio, but a scheduling error meant not everyone could join the meeting. Activision executive Joshua Taub allegedly told those in attendance he and CEO Bobby Kotick “have never seen this,” adding that “does not mean this behavior does not happen.” Taub then reportedly said, “we don’t publicize all of these claims, we work with the employee and the person who is accused and try to work on a resolution.” The company has a second meeting planned for tomorrow, according to Uppercut

We’ve reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment.

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