Activision Blizzard staff criticise “abhorrent and insulting” lawsuit response in open letter

"We no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests"

The orc statue outside of Blizzard's Irvine HQ

Current and former employees of Activision Blizzard have called the company’s response to a recent discrimination lawsuit “abhorrent and insulting” in an open letter. That comes from Bloomberg (paywall), which reports that the letter was circulated on Monday. According to CNN, the number of signatures on the letter has since sailed past 2,000.

“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 letter says. “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.”

The letter calls for official statements that “recognise the seriousness of these allegations” and “demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault”. There are also calls for Activision Blizzard’s executive vice president for corporate affairs, Frances Townsend, to stand down from her role as executive sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network due to the “damaging nature of her statement”, which was shared to Twitter by Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier alongside a separate internal email from Blizzard president J. Allen Brack.

Last week, news broke that the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing had accused Activision Blizzard of fostering a “frat boy” workplace culture that sees women subjected to sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation in a lawsuit that followed a two-year investigation. In a statement provided to The Verge, Activision Blizzard called the case “irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable state bureaucrats that are driving many of the state’s best businesses out of California”.

Following the widespread attention of the lawsuit, plenty of current and former Activision Blizzard employees took to social media to share their experiences or apologise. Former Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime took to Twitter to apologise to the women of Blizzard for “[letting] them down”.

Diablo co-creator Chris Metzen also took to Twitter, saying that there is “no excuse” for what happened. “We failed too many people when they needed us because we had the privilege of not noticing, not engaging, not creating necessary space for the colleagues who needed us as leaders. I wish my apology could make any kind of difference. It can’t.”

The lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing towards Activision Blizzard is still ongoing.