Activision Blizzard Just Settled Its Federal Harassment Lawsuit

Activision Blizzard's $18 million settlement of the federal sexual harassment lawsuit with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been approved.

As reported by VGC, the EEOC, which is a federal agency, filed the lawsuit in September 2021 over allegations that Activision Blizzard and its subsidiaries meted out sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and retaliation against female employees. But instead of fighting the suit, the company agreed to a settlement of $18 million, which the attorneys for labor union Communication Workers of America claim is insufficient.

"The agreement we reached with the EEOC last year reflected our unwavering commitment to ensure a safe and equitable working environment for all employees," CEO Bobby Kotick said in a press release. "Our goal is to make Activision Blizzard a model for the industry, and we will continue to focus on eliminating harassment and discrimination from our workplace. The court's approval of this settlement is an important step in ensuring that our employees have mechanisms for recourse if they experienced any form of harassment or retaliation."

The settlement comes nearly a week after a current Activision Blizzard employee filed yet another sexual harassment lawsuit against the game publisher. It's also the second-largest sexual harassment settlement the EEOC ever negotiated.

Activision Blizzard's settlement with the EEOC detailed

As part of the consent decree for the settlement, which Judge Dale S. Fischer approved, Activision Blizzard will use the $18 million to create a fund that will compensate victims of sexual abuse and harassment. Employees who worked at Activision Blizzard from September 1, 2016, onward can submit a claim for sexual harassment, retaliation, or pregnancy discrimination in order to be eligible for compensation. This comes with one condition: victims who choose to become part of the EEOC settlement will not be able to continue their involvement in the DFEH's lawsuit on the aforementioned issues, according to The Washington Post. 

The company will also enhance its harassment and discrimination training, require supervisors to attend them, and implement an expanded performance-review system. It will also expand mental health resources available to employees. 

Despite the improvements Activision Blizzard promised to make, the DFEH heavily criticized the $18 million settlement, claiming it will potentially undermine its ongoing case against the company, which is set to go to trial in February 2023. The state agency plans to appeal the consent decree after Judge Fischer denied its request for a stay on the case.

Legal troubles aside, Activision Blizzard has called on its shareholders to vote on the $70 billion merger with Microsoft, which it will hold a meeting for on April 28, 2022. The deal is expected to be approved by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by June 30, 2023.