Workers at Activision Blizzard, the world's largest gaming company by market value, walked off the job Wednesday to protest the company's vow that it would fight a lawsuit filed by California alleging discrimination and sexual harassment.
About 200 workers rallied outside the company's headquarters in Irvine, California, Vice reported .
Walkout organizers' demands included that the company publish pay data and stop including mandatory arbitration in contracts, according to a document provided to Forbes .
They also want the company to hire an outside group to investigate the roots of alleged employee harassment and change hiring and promotion practices to provide more opportunities for women, people of color and nonbinary people.
Workers at two other major game publishers expressed support for the walkout: An employee of Bungie, which makes Halo , said on twitter that workers walked off the job in solidarity, while Axios reported that " close to 500 current and former employees" of Ubisoft—known for its its Assassin's Creed franchise—signed a letter supporting the Activision workers.
Before the walkout, players of the Activision Blizzard game World of Warcraft organized a "mass logout" to show support for the employee protest.
"This is the beginning of an enduring movement in favor of better labor conditions for all employees, especially women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups," employees wrote Tuesday night in a second letter to managers that was provided to Forbes . The walkout, the anonymous workers wrote, will not be "a one-time event that our leaders can ignore. We will not return to silence."
On July 21, California regulators filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for discriminating against women—especially against Black women and other women of color—by paying them less, promoting them less and firing them more, for allowing women to be sexually harassed and for retaliating against women who spoke up about the abuse. The state's investigation found that men at the company had openly "joke[d] about rape" and groped women at company events; that women "were kicked out of lactation rooms" so other employees could use them; and that one woman killed herself while on a business trip with a male supervisor who had brought sex toys. When the company responded defiantly —chief commercial officer Frances Townsend called the lawsuit "truly meritless and irresponsible" and that it included "incorrect, old and out of context stories"—workers organized the walkout. In response, the company said workers would not be punished for joining the walkout, the Verge reported , and CEO Bobby Kotick apologized for the company's "tone deaf" response. The company hired a law firm to check whether its policies "promote a respectful and inclusive workplace," Kotick wrote. Workers said the letter "did not address" their concerns. "We expect a prompt response," they wrote.
3,000. That's at least how many workers have signed a letter to Activision Blizzard executives, organizers told Forbes Wednesday. The company had about 9,500 employees at the end of 2020, the company said in its year-end filing . Workers sent the letter Monday, Kotaku reported .
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