Some Activision Blizzard employees stage walkout as board backs CEO

·2 min read
Bobby Kotick, chief executive officer of Activision Blizzard, attends the annual Allen and Co. Sun Valley media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho

By Julia Love and Nivedita Balu

(Reuters) - Some employees at video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc staged a walkout on Tuesday after a Wall Street Journal report that the company's chief executive knew about allegations of sexual harassment and assault earlier than previously known.

Activision Blizzard's board responded to the report with a statement saying directors had confidence in CEO Bobby Kotick. A spokesperson for the Santa Monica, California-based company said the article was inaccurate and misleading.

On Tuesday, the Journal said Kotick was aware of allegations that an employee had been raped by her supervisor and that he failed to inform the board.

Following publication of the article, a group describing themselves as representing Activision Blizzard employees demanded new leadership.

"We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO," the ABK Workers Alliance wrote on Twitter. "We are staging a Walkout today."

One employee told Reuters about 100 workers had gathered at a demonstration outside Blizzard's offices.

A company spokesperson did not comment on the size of the demonstration but said Activision Blizzard supports employees' "right to express their opinions and concerns in a safe and respectful manner, without fear of retaliation.”

Shares of Activision were down 5.6% in late trade.

In recent months, Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in allegations of equal pay violations, sexual discrimination and sexual misconduct. Last month, the company said it had fired more than 20 employees following allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.

The board said it was confident in Kotick's leadership and that he acted appropriately when workplace issues were brought to his attention. Under Kotick, changes included "a zero tolerance harassment policy" efforts to increase the percentages of women and non-binary people in the workforce and "investments to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent," the board said.

(Reporting by Julia Love in San Francisco and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Grant McCool)

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