Activision Blizzard Pays $18 Million to Resolve EEOC Workplace Harassment Lawsuit
The hydra of legal troubles for Activision Blizzard sees one complaint resolved amid a federal investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a lawsuit brought forward by Blizzard employees with the support of the Communications Workers of America, and a shareholder lawsuit over Activision Blizzard failing to adequately inform shareholders of the company’s ongoing harassment and sexual assault allegations.
Details From Activision Blizzard’s $18 Million Agreement With the EEOC: What It Means for Their Workplace Culture
On Monday, Activision Blizzard committed to an $18 million agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that would see eligible employees and claimants compensated in the workplace harassment lawsuit. At the same time, new initiatives would be created at Activision Blizzard to provide more support for women in the gaming industry and better oversight and reporting measures to prevent workplace harassment, according to an Activision Blizzard press release.
According to the agreement, Activision Blizzard will create an $18 million fund to compensate claimants. Funds not used for direct compensation will be divided between contributions to non-profit organizations working to assist women’s advancement in the video game and tech industries and NPOs that promote “awareness around sexual harassment and gender equality issues.” A “Diversity and Inclusion Fund” will be created using remaining funds by Activision Blizzard that will need the EEOC’s approval.
Activision Blizzard will also work on upgrading “policies, practices, and training to prevent and eliminate harassment and discrimination in the workplace,” according to their press release. This initiative includes expanding Activision Blizzard’s performance review system to include measures that ensure equal opportunity for all employees. The company will also contract a third-party equal employment opportunity consultant that will act independently of Activision Blizzard and be approved by the EEOC to oversee Activision Blizzard’s practices and investigate the company. The EEO consultant will report directly to the EEOC and Activision Blizzard’s board of directors.
An EEO coordinator role will also open up at Activision Blizzard to ensure that the company maintains the agreement’s requirements and implementations to meet gender discrimination, harassment, and related retaliation expectations.
The price tag and the promises of the agreement are impressive, but looking at the agreement, it seems as though Activision Blizzard is looking to put their history of sexual harassment to rest. According to the agreement, Activision Blizzard doesn’t accept any responsibility regarding the sexual harassment allegations made against them and denies that their policies and workplace culture did not in any way result in any workplace sexual harassment.
“Defendants expressly deny that they subjected any individual or group of individuals to sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and/or related retaliation, deny all allegations of wrongdoing, liability, damages and entitlement to other relief set forth in the Action whether arising under Title VII or analogous state and local laws, deny any group or systemic discrimination or harassment and deny that any of their policies and procedures are inadequate.”
Based on this statement, it seems that Activision Blizzard does not acknowledge the allegations to be the product of their workplace culture but of individuals occupying leadership positions at the company.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick seems to reify this notion. “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.”
The agreement may impact Activision Blizzard’s other ongoing lawsuits and investigations, as the agreement shows Activision Blizzard’s commitment to a less toxic work culture while remaining opposed to the idea that the company’s work environment influenced cases of workplace harassment at Activision Blizzard. Should more news regarding the influence of this agreement become known, we’ll be sure to report on it.