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Activision to Pay $18 Million in EEOC Settlement

In August 2021, we reported a complaint filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing accusing Activision/Blizzard (“Activision”) of rampant sex discrimination. Activision is a well-known video game publisher. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) filed its own civil rights complaint against the company in late September and then settled it.

The EEOC’s lawsuit was based on a three-year investigation into the company. The EEOC accused the company of discriminating against pregnant employees, paying female employees less than their male comparators, and retaliating against employees who protested the unfair treatment. The complaint also included allegations of sexual harassment. The $18 million settlement fund will go to “compensate and make amends to eligible claimants” with any remaining funds going to “advance women in the video game industry or promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues.” The company also agreed to improve its policies to prevent harassment and discrimination as well as to appoint an external consultant to review its reporting and investigation processes. The consultant’s findings will be reported to the Board of Directors. The company announced a new initiative to develop software tools and training programs to improve these types of workplace policies across the technology sector.

Any settlement between the EEOC and Activision does not impact the ongoing litigation by California’s agency. The company is also facing complaints by a labor union to the National Labor Relations Board and an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Several top executives have reportedly left the company since California’s agency filed its lawsuit. The company’s press release included an apology from the chief executive stating, “I am sorry that anyone had to experience inappropriate conduct.” He also expressed gratitude to employees who “bravely” shared their experiences and asserted, “there is no place anywhere in our company for discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment of any kind.” The company denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.