Nearly 1,000 current and former employees of Activision Blizzard have signed an open letter expressing support for a recent labor lawsuit against the game publisher, and condemning the company’s reaction.
The letter, which was seen and reprinted by Bloomberg, began circulating on Monday. It addresses a lawsuit filed against Activision by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which alleges many instances of “harassment and discrimination against women” at the company.
In particular, the signatories take issue with Activision’s response to the suit, which described it as “inaccurate” and “irresponsible,” as well as a subsequent internal statement by top executive Frances Townsend. The letter reads: “We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault.”
The DFEH, a government agency, alleges that male employees have joked about rape, groped female colleagues, and played video games in the office while delegating work to women, among other things. It describes a gender pay gap at the company and says women are promoted more slowly than men. Since the suit was filed last week, dozens of current and former employees have also posted allegations of discrimination on social media.
Based in Santa Monica, California, Activision has around 9,500 employees. Its franchises include the hugely popular World of Warcraft games.
Read the full letter below:
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.