Blizzard CEO Calls Sexual Harassment Allegations ‘Extremely Disturbing’

The president of Blizzard Entertainment sent an email to staff calling allegations of sexual harassment at the company “extremely disturbing.” First reported by Jason Schreier at Bloomberg, J. Allen Brack wrote that “the fight for equality is incredibly important to me,” and that he has fought the “bro culture” his entire career.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed suit Tuesday against Blizzard and owner Activision Blizzard, alleging a culture of “constant sexual harassment” at the company. The complaint describes a “frat boy culture” in which male employees drink and sexually harass female employees with no repercussions. Brack is named in the complaint as one of the people at the company who allegedly knew and facilitated the behavior.

According to the DFEH complaint, “male employees would play video games on the job, joke about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies and make numerous jokes about rape.”

Women have been subjected to numerous sexual advances and comments, the lawsuit states, including groping and other forms of harassment:

A female employee noted that random male employees would approach her on Defendants’ workplace and comment on her breasts. Female employees who worked for the World of Warcraft team noted that male employees and supervisors would attack them, make derogatory comments about rape, and otherwise behave degradingly. This behavior was known and even encouraged by supervisors, including a male supervisor who openly encouraged a male subordinate to “buy” a prostitute to cure his bad temper.

Alex Afrasiabi, the former Senior Creative Director of World of Warcraft at Blizzard Entertainment, was allowed to engage in blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussions. At a corporate event (an annual convention called Blizz Con), Afrasiabi attacked female employees, told him he wanted to marry them, tried to kiss them and wrapped his arms around them. This was clearly visible to other male employees, including supervisors, who had to step in and rip him off from female employees.

Activision Blizzard CEO Fran Townsend emailed staff the same day as Brack, according to Schreier, but in a different tone, saying the lawsuit presented a “false image” of the company, adding that it was “undeserved”. Her comments matched a company official statement that called the DFEH lawsuit “irresponsible behavior by unaccountable state bureaucrats driving many of the state’s best companies out of California,” and said the lawsuit was “distorted and in many cases false” contained. descriptions of Blizzard’s past.”

Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.