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The Verge

Activision/Blizzard Workers Walkout

The gaming company is facing lawsuits over a toxic work environment and suicide of an employee

Posted on
Jul 30, 2021

Activision/Blizzard, one of the largest gaming companies in the world and the makers of top selling games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft is facing a walkout and lawsuit from their employees over the toxic work environment that has been created. This includes one worker killing themselves after a nude photo was passed around the office. Find out more below from the LA Times.

 

Employees at Activision Blizzard walked off the job Wednesday to protest the company’s response to an explosive lawsuit filed last week alleging pervasive discrimination and harassment against women.

The suit, filed against the company by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, largely focuses on the Blizzard division of the company and outlines a workplace where sexual harassment is rampant and often goes unpunished, and where women are paid less, denied promotions and retaliated against when they raise issues with managers.

The legal action is the result of more than two years of investigation into Activision Blizzard, according to the filing. It seeks damages, unpaid wages and back pay for all female employees of the company, among other penalties.

However, the walkout staged Wednesday at the company’s Irvine office — and virtually around the world — was inspired by Activision Blizzard’s response to the lawsuit more than the lawsuit itself.

Immediately after the suit was filed, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson released a statement saying the lawsuit includes “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past,” accused the state of rushing to file a case and called the suit “irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats.” Two days later, a companywide email from Activision Blizzard executive Frances Townsend repeated that message, writing that the lawsuit “presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories.”

All the while, current and former employees had been sharing their experiences of harassment and discrimination on social media.

 

Over the weekend, employees decided to respond. A group of workers drafted a letter to management calling the company’s initial statement and Townsend’s follow-up “abhorrent and insulting,” writing that they “no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests.” The letter called for official statements that recognize the severity of the allegations and demanded that Townsend step down from leadership of the company’s women employee group.

By Tuesday, the letter had more than 3,100 signatures, more than 1,600 from current Blizzard employees, according to a Blizzard employee serving as spokesperson for the workers organizing the walkout who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.

The call for a walkout included four demands: a change to hiring and promotion policies to increase the number of women at the company, the publication of compensation and promotion data for all employees, a third-party audit of the company’s management and human resources department, and an end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, which the organizers write “protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.”

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