Video game giant Activision Blizzard has announced that it will agree to pay an $18-million settlement to end a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit recently brought against the company by the U.S. government.
CNN’s Rishi Iyengar reported that on Sept. 27, “the gaming company, which owns hugely popular titles such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush, announced it had reached a settlement agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in response to a complaint the agency filed earlier in the day.”
According to Iyengar, “as part of the settlement agreement, which is subject to court approval, Activision Blizzard said it will create an $18 million fund ‘to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants.’ Any remaining amount will either be donated to charities focused on harassment, gender equality and women in the video game industry or will be used to create diversity and inclusion initiatives within the company.”
In a statement, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said, “there is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment of any kind, and I am grateful to the employees who bravely shared their experiences. I remain unwavering in my commitment to make Activision Blizzard one of the world’s most inclusive, respected and respectful workplaces.”
In the EEOC complaint lodged against the company, a number of its female workers alleged that they had experienced repeated sexual harassment, retaliation for complaints about the harassment, and vastly unequal levels of pay compared to male employees while working at Activision Blizzard. The complaint also claimed that the company routinely discriminated against employees who became pregnant.
Responding to those allegations, Kotick said in his statement that his company would “continue to be vigilant” in finding and eliminating these types of harassment and discrimination.
“We thank the EEOC for its constructive engagement as we work to fulfill our commitments to eradicate inappropriate conduct in the workplace,” he said.
In addition to charges levied against the company by the EEOC, Activision Blizzard was also involved in another controversial workplace lawsuit by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing earlier this year.
“That lawsuit, filed in July, alleged a ‘frat boy’ work culture where women were subjected to constant discrimination and harassment,” Iyengar reported. “It kicked off a storm of dissent from within Activision Blizzard’s own workforce that ultimately led to hundreds of employees staging a walkout at the company’s offices in Irvine, California.”
As if all that weren’t bad enough, the National Labor Relations Board also filed a complaint against Activision Blizzard in early September, accusing the company of unfair labor practices. The Securities and Exchange Commission is pursuing an investigation into the company’s labor and employment issues.
Activision Blizzard has said it is cooperating with all these investigations and regulators with the hope of bringing them to a fair and just conclusion.