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Over 2000 current and former Activision Blizzard employees sign petition calling company response to discrimination lawsuit “abhorrent and insulting”

More than 2000 current and former Activision Blizzard employees have signed a petition calling the company’s response to the recent discrimination lawsuit “abhorrent and insulting”.

The open letter, first reported by Bloomberg (paywall), hits out at the company’s response to the lawsuit filed last week by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleges multiple female employees were subjected to gender discrimination, sexual harassment and unequal pay.

According to CNN, this letter now has over 2000 signatories – a number that is expected to grow in the coming days.

The petition comes after a raft of Blizzard developers took to social media to criticise reported corporate statements issued on the recent allegations made against the company.

The State of California sued Activision Blizzard over what it alleges to be a “frat boy” culture that created “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women”.

The lawsuit alleges a culture of “constant sexual harassment”, mainly at Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of World of Warcraft, Diablo and Overwatch.

Activision Blizzard has strongly denied the accusations, calling many of the claims distorted or false.

An email reportedly sent to staff by Activision Blizzard executive Fran Townsend, who was the assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism to George W. Bush from 2004 to 2008, has been heavily criticised by staff.

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Activision Blizzard executive vice president of corporate affairs Fran Townsend. Image credit Activision Blizzard.

“A recently-filed lawsuit presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories – some from more than a decade ago,” Townsend reportedly said in the email.

“We work at a company that truly values equality and fairness,” she added.

“Rest assured that leadership is committed to continuing to maintain a safe, fair, and inclusive workplace. We cannot let egregious actions of others, and a truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit, damage our culture of respect and equal opportunity for all employees.”

The company’s statements in response to the lawsuit “are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for,” the petition said.

“To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.”

The petition also cited the statement by Townsend, calling for Townsend to resign her position as executive sponsor of the company’s employee women’s network, and for “official statements that recognise the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault”.

“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,” the letter continued.

Activision Blizzard has yet to issue a comment specifically on the petition. Company boss Bobby Kotick has so far remained silent since news of the lawsuit emerged.

Meanwhile, more current and former Activision Blizzard employees have come forward on social media to tell their own personal stories. The company’s social media accounts across the likes of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft haven’t tweeted in the last week.

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