Activision Blizzard employees are staging a walk out on Wednesday after signing a letter calling the video game maker’s response to an explosive sexual harassment suit “abhorrent and insulting.”
The employees will leave work and meet outside the company’s Irvine, California campus on Wednesday from 10 to 2 p.m. a.m., Axios reported.
As part of the walkout, employees are reportedly demanding an end to forced arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, increased representation among both rank-and-file and executive staff and the publication of salary and promotion data by race, gender and ethnicity.
The move comes after California sued Activision Blizzard last week for allegedly fostering a “frat bro” culture full of rape jokes, crude comments and groping that even drove one female employee to suicide.
In response, company spokespeople claimed the suit was filled with “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.”
On Monday, thousands of Activision Blizzard workers circulated a letter criticizing their bosses’ reaction to the suit — and saying they have lost faith in the company’s leadership.
“We no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests,” employees of the studio behind “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Guitar Hero” wrote in the letter first reported by Bloomberg.
But in the Activision Blizzard employees’ letter — which had racked up more than 2,600 signatures as of mid-day Tuesday, according to The Verge — workers came out in support of the suit’s claims and accused the company of defending itself at the expense of sexual assault victims.
“Categorizing the claims that have been made as ‘distorted, and in many cases false’ creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims,” the employees wrote. “These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.”
Shortly after news of the California lawsuit broke, Activision Blizzard executive Fran Townsend — a former Bush administration Homeland Security senior advisor — sent out an internal note saying the suit “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,” according to Bloomberg.
Activision Blizzard employees singled out Townsend by name in Monday’s letter, saying she should “step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement.”
Activision Blizzard did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
In the suit, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing said Activision Blizzard’s offices were a breeding ground for “constant sexual harassment.”
That includes “having to continually fend off unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male co-workers and supervisors and being groped at the ‘cube crawls’ and other company events,” the suit claims.
During the so-called “cube crawls,” male employees would “drink copious amounts of alcohol as they crawl their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees,” according to the suit.