Pressure on Activision Blizzard is mounting as more than 2,000 current and former employees signed a petition slamming what they see as the video game company’s “abhorrent and insulting” response to a California lawsuit.
The petition, which was circulated Monday and seen by CNN Business, criticized the company’s statements following a lawsuit filed last week by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleged that multiple female employees were subjected to gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and unequal pay.
Activision Blizzard, the publisher of hugely popular games such as “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft,” is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and has approximately 9,500 employees, according to the state’s filing.
The company’s director of corporate communications, Kelvin Liu, blasted the state’s filing and investigation as “inaccurate” and “distorted” in a statement to CNN following the lawsuit. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday’s petition.
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 an internal statement by Frances Townsend, a former George W. Bush administration counterterrorism official and Activision Blizzard’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, in which she reportedly described the lawsuit’s allegations as “factually incorrect, old, and out of context.”
The petition calls for “official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault,” and for Townsend to resign her position as executive sponsor of the company’s employee women’s network.
“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,” it added.
Townsend did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Several former employees have detailed their experiences at Activision Blizzard on social media since last week’s lawsuit, which accuses the company of fostering a “frat boy” work culture where female employees have to “continually fend off unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male coworkers.”
The complaint also alleges that “the company’s executives and human resources personnel knew of the harassment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful conduct, and instead retaliated against women who complained.”