Update 2:50 p.m. ET: Added information about J. Allen Brack's mentions in the lawsuit to the article.
What you need to know
- Two Activision Blizzard executives — J. Allen Brack and Frances Townsend — responded to a recent lawsuit in internal emails sent to employees.
- Brack called the allegations "unacceptable" in one, while Townsend called them "untrue" in another.
- The lawsuit was filed by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing this week concerning many instances of sexist culture and harassment at the company.
It's no surprise that a lawsuit as explosive as the one filed by the California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) against Activision Blizzard would cause a stir internally. According to Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, two very different emails were sent out to Activision Blizzard employees this week — one by Blizzard president J. Allen Brack and another by Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs Frances Townsend.
In the first email, Brack called the allegations "extremely troubling" and said that he found the "behavior detailed in the allegations is completely unacceptable."
He promised later in the email that the leadership team will be meeting with employees to figure out how best to move forward.
"I feel angry, sad, and a host of other emotions, but I also feel grateful to work alongside a set of leaders and thousands of employees who join me in their commitment to continuous improvement."
Brack is specifically named in the lawsuit as having received complaints about the harassment and retailiation but as one of the defendants "failed to take effective remedial measures in response ot these complaints." He also allegedly had conversations with former senior creative director of World of Warcraft Alex Afrasiabi about the latter's behavior, which includes sexual harassment. It's said that Brack gave Afrasiabi a "slap on the wrist" in response.
Townsend, who joined the company in March, took a different tone with her email, saying that the lawsuit "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." This mirrors the company's statement to the lawsuit sent to multiple media organizations, which also claimed the lawsuit included "distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past." She also called the lawsuit "meritless and irresponsible."
While Brack's email didn't present steps the company will be taking, Townsend iterated that Activision Blizzard will be "investing in" diversity and inclusion networks, introducing "inclusive hiring training," and requiring employees to take part in anti-harassment training, among other tasks.
Schreier said that Townsend's email has left some employees "fuming."
You can read the two emails below.
Blizzard president J. Allen Brack sent out an email to staff last night addressing the allegations from this week's explosive lawsuit, calling them "extremely troubling" and saying that he'd be "meeting with many of you to answer questions and discuss how we can move forward." pic.twitter.com/NsMV6CNdTEBlizzard president J. Allen Brack sent out an email to staff last night addressing the allegations from this week's explosive lawsuit, calling them "extremely troubling" and saying that he'd be "meeting with many of you to answer questions and discuss how we can move forward." pic.twitter.com/NsMV6CNdTE— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) July 23, 2021July 23, 2021
Activision Blizzard executive Fran Townsend, who was the Homeland Security Advisor to George W. Bush from 2004-2007 and joined Activision in March, sent out a very different kind of email that has some Blizzard employees fuming. pic.twitter.com/BxGeMTuRYFActivision Blizzard executive Fran Townsend, who was the Homeland Security Advisor to George W. Bush from 2004-2007 and joined Activision in March, sent out a very different kind of email that has some Blizzard employees fuming. pic.twitter.com/BxGeMTuRYF— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) July 23, 2021July 23, 2021
We've reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment and will update if we hear back.
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