Activision to set up $18M victims fund in response to harassment suit
Activision Blizzard announced plans Monday to settle a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hours after it was filed.
Why it matters: This is Activision's most visible acknowledgment of problems at the company, in the wake of a series of workplace misconduct lawsuits, complaints and investigations initiated against the "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft" maker since the summer.
- In a 49-page consent decree, the company technically denied any wrongdoing but agreed to a three-year period of extensive oversight.
- According to the agreement, which is subject to a judge's approval, Activision Blizzard will establish "an $18 million fund to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants." (Activision's operating income for its most recent quarter was $959 million.)
- Eligible employees have to have worked for one of the company's U.S. locations since Sept. 1, 2016.
Between the lines: The EEOC lawsuit from earlier today said the agency investigated Activision for over 2 1/2 years and found that employees were "subjected [to] sexual harassment" and that the company, when notified, "failed to take corrective and preventative measures."
- It also alleged that the company discriminated against pregnant employees and retaliated against workers who took issue with the aforementioned behaviors.
- The EEOC sought a jury trial, adding to pressure Activision is facing from a harassment and discrimination suit by the state of California, and investigations by the National Labor Relations Board and the SEC.
- Beyond the compensation fund, settlement terms include improved anti-harassment training, oversight by an independent consultant, regular reports to the EEOC, explicit policies about the consumption of alcohol at company events and the expansion of mental health support for employees.
What they're saying: "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," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a company statement announcing the planned settlement.
- "I am sorry that anyone had to experience inappropriate conduct."
What's next: Activision has a pending legal showdown with California's Department of Fair Housing & Employment, whose lawsuit remains underway.
- In a court filing last week, an Activision lawyer complained about the DFEH's lack of availability to meet to discuss the suit but vowed to respond to the suit by Oct. 22.