Blizzard President J. Allen Brack Resigns After Company’s Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Lawsuit
Brack’s departure comes less than two weeks later Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, who claimed that the company’s “pervasive frat boy work culture” resulted in female employees being constantly exposed to sexual harassment and paid less than men. Brack was named in the lawsuit as one of the company executives who were allegedly aware of the misconduct and – despite being repeatedly made aware of the issues – “failed to take effective corrective action in response to these complaints.” .”
Brack “is leaving the company to pursue new opportunities,” Activision Blizzard president and COO Daniel Alegre said in a statement Tuesday. The announcement did not relate to the scandal that currently rages in the company.
In a memo to Blizzard staff in the wake of the DFEH lawsuit in California, Brack said the allegations were “disturbing” and said “the fight for equality is incredibly important to me.”
According to the lawsuit, a Blizzard employee complained to Brack in early 2019 that employees were leaving because of sexual harassment and sexism. Specifically, according to the DFEH lawsuit, the employee told Brack that women on the Battle.net team “were subjected to scornful remarks, the environment was akin to working in a dorm, and women who weren’t “huge gamers” or “core gamers and not in the party scene were excluded and treated as outsiders.”
Last Tuesday (July 27), Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick promised the company was taking corrective steps, telling employees in a memo that “we will listen better now and in the future. Our initial reactions to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, frankly, tone deaf.” A day later, hundreds of Blizzard employees went on strike at the company’s headquarters in Irvine, California, to protest the alleged culture of harassment and discrimination.
With Brack out, EVP of Development Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, EVP and GM of Platform and Technology, have been named co-leaders of Blizzard. “With their years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusiveness, I am confident that Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and commitment to excellence,” Alegre wrote.
Brack, former executive producer of “World of Warcraft”, took over as president of Blizzard after co-founder Michael Morhaime left the company in 2018. Brack joined Blizzard in January 2006 after working on “Star Wars Galaxies” at Sony Online Entertainment.
In a statement from Blizzard, Brack said: “I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and accelerate the pace of change. I expect them to do this with passion. and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and dedication to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special.”