A letter from over 1,000 employees at gaming giant Activision called the company’s response to a sexual-harassment lawsuit ‘abhorrent and insulting’

CEO of Activision Blizzard Bobby Kotick attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 12, 2012. Reuters/Jim Urquhart
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. Thomson Reuters
  • The state of California is suing “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard.
  • The lawsuit alleges a “pervasive frat boy culture” where female staffers were harassed.
  • After execs pushed back, a group of over 1,000 employees signed a joint letter lambasting them.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Activision employees said the company’s response to a new lawsuit was “abhorrent and insulting” in a letter sent to management, several media reports said.

“To put it clearly and unequivocally,” the letter from over 1,000 Activision employees said, “our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.”

The letter, reportedly sent to management this week, was created in the wake of a new lawsuit brought by California against Activision. The suit alleges a “pervasive frat boy” culture at the company, where female employees were harassed, paid less than their male counterparts, and retaliated against by human resources when they reported issues.

Read more: 
Activision Blizzard influencers are turning their backs on the video game giant after a lawsuit claimed that female employees dealt with harassment and discrimination

Activision’s “‘frat boy’ culture is a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women,” the suit says. The suit, brought by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, was filed after a two-year investigation into the California gaming giant behind franchises such as “Call of Duty” and “Overwatch.”

In response, Activision executive VP Fran Townsend told employees in an email that the claims in the filing were “distorted and untrue.” The suit, she said, was “truly meritless and irresponsible.”

In the letter, signed by over 1,000 Activision employees, which Bloomberg and Kotaku reported was sent to Activision executives this week, staffers criticized management as fostering “a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims.”

California’s DFEH interviewed current and former employees for its investigation and said it found rampant misconduct across departments at the company. Female employees on the “World of Warcraft” team, for instance, were said to have received sexual advances from male coworkers. Some male staffers on the team reportedly made rape jokes.

Activision Blizzard is a publicly traded video-game maker and publisher with more than 9,000 employees. A spokesperson told Insider in a statement that “the picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today.”

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a nonwork device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.