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20 employees have been fired in wake of Activision Blizzard lawsuit

Fran Townsend is publicly promising more disciplinary action--while Activision Blizzard continues to try and shake off California's lawsuit.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

October 19, 2021

2 Min Read

Activision Blizzard has fired 20 employees in a show of action after a California lawsuit accused the company of fostering a toxic environment of sex-based discrimination and harassment. 

In an interview with Financial Times, chief compliance officer Fran Townsend explained that another 20 employees have been "disciplined" in the intervening months. She did not name any of the impacted employees for legal reasons, making it unclear if this number includes former high-level employees Luis Barriga, Jesse McCree, and Jonathan LeCraft.

Townsend explained that the dismissals followed a months-long review, and targeted both individual game developers and some supervisors. Much of the disciplined conduct apparently took place at off-site gatherings involving alcohol. "The consequences of [the misconduct] are going to affect the workplace, and so that’s the reason we say we have got to address this," she said.

Activision Blizzard employees also received an email from Townsend today that has been shared on Activision Blizzard's corporate website. The letter includes promises to triple Activision Blizzard's spending on employee training, a restructuring of the company's Ethics & Compliance and Employee Relations teams, and promises of improved transparency and updates on investigations.

The decision to publicize Townsend's letter and recent firings comes as Activision Blizzard is attempting to rebuff the State of California's lawsuit against the company due to alleged ethical violations by California DFEH lawyers. You can catch up on that legal back-and-forth here.

Townsend's messaging does not include any direct mention of the demands made by workers at A Better ABK, though she admitted to Financial Times that the company's current steps do not meet the group's demands. These included terms such as a request to end the use of mandatory arbitration clauses, a third-party audit on Activision Blizzard's HR practices, pay transparency, and employee input on hiring and promotion policies. 

We've reached out to both A Better ABK and Activision Blizzard for additional comment, and will update this story once they respond. 

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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