Gaming giant Activision Blizzard is back in the news. This time because it has settled a workplace misconduct lawsuit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The suit, which was filed in US District Court for the Central District of California, followed a three-year investigation by the EEOC and alleged that Activision Blizzard had discriminated against female employees, particularly pregnant women.
It also accused the company of paying female employees less than their male counterparts because of their gender, as well as retaliated against employees who complained about unfair treatment.
However, as part of its commitments to correct workplace misconduct of the past, Activision Blizzard has announced it has reached an $18 million settlement with the EEOC.
As part of the agreement, Activision Blizzard will create a fund to compensate any eligible claimants of unfair treatment in its workplace. Any money not used will be donated to EEOC-approved charities that support women in the gaming industry and promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues at work.
In addition, the gaming giant has committed to upgrade diversity training practices for its own workplace and competitors in the tech industry. Additionally, Activision Blizzard will submit to future reviews and audits of its training and other diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
Talking about the EEOC settlement, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said: “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.
“We thank the EEOC for its constructive engagement as we work to fulfill our commitments to eradicate inappropriate conduct in the workplace.”
But Activision Blizzard was clear that this agreement with the EEOC does not affect other lawsuits and complaints filed against it by other agencies.
Back in July, the Californian government’s Department for Fair Employment and Housing filed a civil action lawsuit against the gaming giant.
The suit alleges that Activision Blizzard has a “pervasive ‘frat boy’ workplace culture”, that women were paid less than men for the same work and women were promoted at slower rates than men.
Two of the executives (J Allen Brack and global head of HR Jesse Meschuk) named in the suit have since left the firm, and the company faced mass staff walk outs in response to its defensive response, which Kotick himself had to come out and publicly rectify.
To add to this, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has now also launched an investigation of Activision Blizzard for alleged sexual misconduct and workplace discrimination, while labor union Communication Workers of America has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board that accused the gaming company of intimidating workers who spoke up against discrimination in the workplace.
It is clear that there is a long road ahead for Activision Blizzard in improving diversity and inclusion in its workplace.
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