Video Game Developer Faces Mutiny Over Lawsuit Response

2K sign letter demanding Activision Blizzard seriously evaluate harassment claims
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2021 9:40 AM CDT
Video Game Developer Faces Mutiny Over Lawsuit Response
This June 13, 2013, file photo shows the Activision Blizzard booth during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

More than 2,000 current and former Activision Blizzard employees have signed a letter to management saying its response to a lawsuit alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination is "abhorrent and insulting." A week-old complaint filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing following a two-year investigation alleged "constant sexual harassment," gender-based discrimination, and unequal pay at the company, which publishes Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, per the Verge. Women described unwanted groping, as well as sexual advances and comments, noting that it felt like working in a frat house, as male employees would discuss sexual encounters and female bodies, and joke about rape, per the suit. Supervisors allegedly participated in the behavior, with one "openly encouraging a male subordinate to 'buy' a prostitute to cure his bad mood."

Activision Blizzard said the lawsuit was the work of "unaccountable State bureaucrats" and included "distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past," per Kotaku. Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs Frances Townsend described the lawsuit as "meritless and irresponsible." The letter drafted over the weekend, published by Kotaku, says that response "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." "Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization," it adds, calling on Townsend to resign as executive sponsor of the company's women's network. More than 2,000 current and ex-employees have signed on, per CNN. The company counts 9,500 current employees, according to the state filing. (Read more Activision Blizzard stories.)

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