Following news that the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is suing Activision Blizzard for job abuse, sexual harassment, and various other reported ill-treatment, the company released a statement to debunk and mitigate the allegations. Now Activision Blizzard employees are staging a strike in protest of the “heinous and abusive” statement made by executives in support of the ongoing lawsuit.
The strike is set to begin on Wednesday July 28th and is intended to show support for the ongoing lawsuit. Game informer learned that a driving factor behind this public display is that many “do not trust” [Activision Blizzard] doing the right thing and helping the people who ask for help, “by a Blizzard employee who wishes to remain anonymous. In a separate statement Polygon, A protest organizer told the website: “We believe that our values as employees are not properly reflected in the words and deeds of our leadership.” Women, and especially women of color and transgender women, non-binary people and other marginalized groups. “
The protest is linked to a statement released earlier this week, a joint effort signed by over 2,500 current and former employees. The allegations against Activision Blizzard detail incidents involving “violations of state civil rights and equal pay laws.” Much of the alleged conduct set out in the lawsuit is directed against women and other marginalized groups, including reported evidence showing widespread gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and long-term managerial behavior that even contributes to an employee’s suicide .
The full letter reads as follows:
To the leaders of Activision Blizzard,
We, the undersigned, agree that the statements made by Activision Blizzard, Inc. and its legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, and the subsequent internal testimony by Frances Townsend, are loathsome and offensive to anyone we believe our company represents should. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not exactly reflected in the words and deeds of our management.
Our executives have claimed that measures are being taken to protect us, but given legal action – and the disturbing official responses that followed – we no longer trust our executives to put employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritorious and irresponsible lawsuit” while so many current and former employees speak of their own experiences of harassment and abuse is simply unacceptable.
We demand official statements that acknowledge the seriousness of these allegations and show compassion for the victims of harassment and assault. We urge Frances Townsend to stand by her word to resign as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network because of the harmful nature of her testimony. We encourage the leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful endeavors to ensure employees – as well as our community – have a safe place to speak and express themselves.
We stand by all of our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as members of our dedicated community who have experienced abuse or harassment of any kind. We won’t be silenced, we won’t stand aside, and we won’t give up until the company we love is a place of work that we can all be proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.
The above reaction came shortly after former CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime made his own statement telling former employees that he understood that he had failed while expressing regret at past inaction. His statement received mixed reactions from the gaming community. Some former Blizzard Activision employees thanked Morhaime for not getting distracted, while others claimed the former CEO knew exactly what had happened over the past decade.
The lawsuit against Activision Blizzard is the result of more than two years of investigation. The allegations allege that HR was fully aware of the culture and that attempts to seek help from HR were reportedly ignored. “Employees continued to be discouraged from complaining because it was known that staff members were close to suspected molesters,” said the lawsuit. “As a result of these complaints, female employees have been subjected to retaliation, including, but not limited to, being removed from work on projects, involuntarily transferred to other departments, and being selected for layoffs.”
To learn more about the current state of the lawsuit, you can read the full legal documents here.