For a moment, it looked as though Activision Blizzard would have yet another lawsuit on their hands, specifically one from the federal government. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on September 27, 2021, alleging that Activision allowed gender-based discrimination and harassment at the company. However, the lawsuit was settled out of court as quickly as it was announced, with Activision agreeing to pay a total of $18 million to “make amends to eligible claimants,” in addition to a number of other stipulations such as reviews of its policies and procedures and an internal EEO hire to oversee the effort.
The EEOC had been investigating Activision Blizzard since September 2018 and had notified the company of its findings on June 15, 2021. Earlier this week, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was subpoenaed in another investigation conducted by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and stated that the company was cooperating with related parties. As it stands, Activision Blizzard is involved in a few other investigations and lawsuits, including one from the California DFEH which started it all, and investor suits alleging that the company didn’t properly notify them of the investigations.
In response to the new lawsuit, Activision Blizzard later announced that it reached an agreement with the EEOC to settle all claims in exchange for creating an $18 million fund to “compensate and make amends” to eligible claimants involved in the lawsuit. Furthermore, any money that’s leftover will be “divided between charities that advance women in the video game industry” and other equality issues.
Additionally, Kotick also offered another boilerplate statement:
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 … We will continue to be vigilant in our commitment to the elimination of harassment and discrimination in the workplace
While it’s important to note that Activision also agreed to upgrade its policies and practices, as well as provide “ongoing oversight and review” of its existing programs, the settled lawsuit is one of many. One formal labor complaint, filed by a workers’ union in partnership with Activision Blizzard employee group ABetterABK, alleges that the company tried to intimidate workers into keeping quiet about the company’s abusive culture.