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Activision Blizzard Employees Plan Walkout Wednesday

Activision Blizzard employees plan to walk out Wednesday to protest working conditions.

Employees at Activision Blizzard  (ATVI) - Get Activision Blizzard, Inc. Report are holding a formal walkout Wednesday to protest working conditions at the video game maker. 

The protest, known as the Activision Blizzard Walkout for Equality will be held virtually, with a live event staged at the company's campus in Irvine, Calif.

Shares were dropping 7.1% to $83.71 at last check.

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Activision Blizzard, whose key product franchises include Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the workforce is mostly remote during the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 50 employees plan to meet at the front of the Blizzard Campus, according to the Washington Post.

An additional estimated 1,000 employees plan to support the protest remotely via social media, using the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout. 

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The protest comes after the company was hit with a lawsuit last week from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleging the company's "pervasive frat boy workplace culture" resulted in female employees being subjected to sexual harassment and being paid less than men.

The lawsuit alleges that the company's executives and human resources department knew of the harassment and failed to take steps to rectify the issues. 

In response, Activision said in a statement that "we value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind."

More than 1,600 current and former Activision Blizzard workers have signed a letter calling the game publisher's responses to a recent discrimination lawsuit in California "abhorrent and insulting," Bloomberg reported

An internal email from Activision Blizzard Chief Compliance Officer Frances Townsend, said the lawsuit's claims were “a distorted and untrue picture of our company.”

The walkout is being organized by a group of employees at
the subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment, where the majority of the lawsuit’s allegations were focused. 

In a statement to Bloomberg, the workers said their goal was to “improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.”

In May, the company raised its outlook and reported better-than-expected first-quarter revenue and earnings, boosted by in-game sales in its latest Call of Duty franchises.