PC Gamer reports that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued Activision following a three-year investigation into sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and other Title VII violations. According to the lawsuit,US Equal Employment Oppportunity Commission vs Activision-Blizzard, female employees were subject to sexual harassment, were discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy, were paid less than male employees based on their gender, and were retaliated against for speaking up about the discrimination and harassment that they faced.
Activision subsequently released a statement announcing an $18 million fund to settle claims, with any money left after settlements to be “divided between charities that advance women in the video game industry or promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues as well as company diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, as approved by the EEOC.” In the statement, Activision announced “an initiative to develop software tools and training programs to improve workplace policies and practices for employers across the technology industry.“ Activision are also reviewing all of their current anti-discrimination and inclusivity practices by “appointing a third-party equal opportunity consultant” to report to the Activision Blizzard Board of Directors as well as the EEOC.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said about the agreement that, “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 am sorry that anyone had to experience inappropriate conduct, and I remain unwavering in my commitment to make Activision Blizzard one of the world’s most inclusive, respected, and respectful workplaces.”
Kotick added: “We will continue to be vigilant in our commitment to the elimination of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. We thank the EEOC for its constructive engagement as we work to fulfill our commitments to eradicate inappropriate conduct in the workplace.”
Kotick has been the CEO of Activision since 1991, long before Activision Blizzard was born out of the 2008 merger of Activision and Vivendi (the French parent company of Blizzard and Sierra). One might wonder how subordinates trafficking in this behavior could thrive under his nose for so long, or when this attitude of vigilance emerged.
This settlement comes on the heels of a July lawsuit by the state of California around the same sort of abusive, misogynistic workplace misdeeds, and the Sept. 14 announcement that the Securities and Exchange Commission is also currently investigating Activision Blizzard. Considering how quickly the settlement followed the announcement, and the lack of appeals, Activision Blizzard has likely come to terms with the financial requirements of making this all go away.