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Activision Blizzard: More than 20 staff leave after harassment claims

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Gaming giant Activision Blizzard says more than 20 employees have “exited” the company following numerous sexual harassment and discrimination claims.

The firm has spent the last several months dealing with a handful of lawsuits and claims about its allegedly toxic workplace environment.

More than 20 other employees have faced disciplinary action, it said in a letter to staff on Tuesday.

Some of those known to have left include high-profile game developers.

Activision did not say it fired any specific individual or that any of those departures were connected to any allegations.

In Tuesday’s letter, however, it directly said at least 40 staff had suffered consequences following reports of misconduct – and that covers only those reports “resolved” so far.

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Activision Blizzard said that it hoped to “earn our team’s confidence that, when they speak up, they will be heard”.

It also revealed it would be hiring 19 full-time roles that will be focused on helping to create a “more accountable workplace” for its employees.

The company’s chief compliance officer, Frances Townsend, said that staff who violate its policies would be “terminated or disciplined” regardless of their seniority.

“We call it as we see it,” she told the Financial Times.

“It doesn’t matter what your rank is, what your job is. If you’ve committed some sort of misconduct or you’re a leader who has tolerated a culture that is not consistent with our values, we’re going to take action. The impact on the business is not a consideration.”

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The BBC has asked Activision Blizzard for comment.

In September, Activision Blizzard announced that it had reached an $18m (£13m) settlement agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The watchdog sued the video games giant following a three-year-long investigation into its workplace culture.

However, the EEOC case was just one of several.

Image caption,Employees staged a walkout in July

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing took legal action against the company in July, following a two-year investigation.

It accused the gaming giant of having a “frat boy” culture, in which female employees are subjected to unequal pay, retaliation, and harassment, which it said the company was failing to prevent.

Activision Blizzard denied any wrongdoing, and continues to fight that case.

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However, it sparked hundreds of employees to stage a walkout in August, and more than 2,000 staff also signed a petition in response.

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