The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed yet another lawsuit against Activision. This one alleges the publisher subjected staff to sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. It states that they found “sexual harassment that was severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment,” and Activision “failed to take corrective and preventative measures.”
The investigation has been going on since 2018 and pre-dates the lawsuit from the State of California which also accuses the company of widespread sexual harassment.
The US legal system allows for Activision to discuss the lawsuit before it gets filed and as a result as soon as it was posted Activision announced an $18 million fund to settle the lawsuit.
Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) today confirmed that, as part of its effort to have the most welcoming, inclusive workplace, it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to settle claims and to further strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination in the company’s workplace. Under the agreement, the principal terms of which are summarized in Attachment A to this press release, Activision Blizzard has committed to create an $18 million fund to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants. Any amounts not used for claimants will 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. The agreement is subject to court approval.
The company also announced an initiative to develop software tools and training programs to improve workplace policies and practices for employers across the technology industry.
Activision have promised to also “upgrade policies, practices, and training to further prevent and eliminate harassment and discrimination in its workplaces, including implementing an expanded performance review system with a new equal opportunity focus.” They will also be “providing ongoing oversight and review of the Company’s training programs, investigation policies, disciplinary framework and compliance by appointing a third-party equal opportunity consultant whose findings will be regularly reported to our Board of Directors as well as the Commission.”
In the grand scheme of things $18 million is a small price to pay for Activision. If the lawsuit went ahead it would have certainly cost a lot more, and $18 million to fund compensation from what appears to be a large number of complaints seems rather low. It’s also worth noting that Activision boss Bobby Kotick earned $155m in bonuses last year and Activision as a company made $8.09 billion. The $18m fund represents just 0.2% of their profits.
The company still has to contend with the other lawsuits including one from California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, another from investors in the company, and a complaint from Activision staff filed by the National Labor Relations Board alleging surveillance of employees and threatening behaviour.
Source: PC Gamer