More than 20 Activision Blizzard employees ‘exited’ following lawsuits

The Call of Duty Overwatch publisher Activision Blizzard is vowing to create a “company culture where all feel safe and heard,” according to a letter published by Activision Blizzard corporate affairs executive vice president Fran Townsend. It was apparently circulated internally prior to being made available online.

Townsend said more than 20 people have “exited” Activision Blizzard following internal investigations following California’s sweeping Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH) lawsuit against the video game company. Former and current employees claimed that Activision Blizzard was a hostile workplace. World of Warcraft publisher maintains a toxic workplace culture that’s hostile to women, who are paid less than men and subject to sexual harassment. Townsend said “more than 20 individuals” have been disciplined “in connection to various resolved reports” in the recent months.

Activision Blizzard has not responded to Polygon’s request for more information regarding these exits and disciplinary action.

Activision Blizzard is being sued by the U.S. since its original lawsuit. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, its shareholders and the National Labor Relations Board. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the company for possible violations in relation to sexual harassment and workplace discrimination. Activision Blizzard paid $18 million to the EEOC for its September settlement. DFEH sought to intervene, but the agencies continue their fight. Ahead of Tuesday’s letter from Townsend, Activision Blizzard filed documents in the DFEH case asking a judge to halt the lawsuit — essentially, Activision Blizzard is trying to get the case thrown out due to a conflict of interest between government lawyers, according to The Verge.

Despite that filing, Townsend said in Tuesday’s letter that Activision Blizzard is “working tirelessly to ensure that, moving forward, this is a place where people are not only heard, but empowered.”

Activision Blizzard indicated that they are still investigating the matter and said anonymous reports could be filed. Jen Brewer, senior vice president of Ethics and Compliance at Activision Blizzard, will lead the company’s 19-member Ethics and Compliance team. Townsend also said Activision Blizzard will “triple” its investment in training against harassment and other workplace concerns.

Some current and former employees, on social media and in conversation with Polygon, said they’re not convinced by Townsend’s letter. This is due, in part, to Townsend’s initial response to the DFEH lawsuit; the Activision Blizzard exec and former homeland security advisor under George W. Bush said the lawsuit was “distorted and untrue,” as well as “truly meritless and irresponsible.” At that time, a group of Activision Blizzard employees banded together to call for her removal as the sponsor of the ABK (Activision Blizzard King) Employee Women’s Network.

Hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees walked out of work following Townsend’s initial letter. An open letter was signed by thousands of former and current employees in support of DFEH’s lawsuit. In the months that followed, several executives and prominent employees left the company including J. Allen Brack (Blizzard president).

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