Over 1000 Activision Blizzard employees have signed an open letter to the company’s management, criticising its response to a recent discrimination and harassment lawsuit.
The letter, shared by Kotaku, was originally written by over 800 employees from across all of the company and its subsidiaries, and over the weekend has been gathering more signatures.
Last week the company was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) because of its reported failure to handle sexual harassment and discrimination against female employees.
The lawsuit claims that, following a two-year investigation, the DFEH “found evidence” that Activision Blizzard “discriminated against female employees in terms and conditions of employment, including compensation, assignment, promotion, termination, constructive discharge and retaliation.”
It also says the DFEH found that “female employees were subject to sexual harassment”.
The suit then goes on to cite numerous examples of incidents that allegedly took place at the company, including numerous instances of women being overlooked for promotions (or being refused them in case they became pregnant), sexual harassment at the workplace and, in one case, a female worker dying by suicide during a business trip.
Activision‘s response to the lawsuit was a confrontational one, suggesting it planned to fight the case, and accusing the DFEH of not engaging with it on “what they thought they were seeing” in their investigation.
The open letter signed by more than 1000 employees strikes back at Activision-Blizzard management, stating that its response was “abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for”.
It goes on to state that by saying some of the claims made were “distorted, and in many cases false”, management had effectively created “a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims” and “casts doubt on [the] organisation’s ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future”.
The full open letter reads as follows:
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.