Activision Blizzard Settles Federal Sexual Harassment Suit for $18 Million
The company’s settlement with the EEOC has been approved
A judge has approved Activision Blizzard’s $18 million USD settlement with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Tuesday. This settlement comes months after the company had agreed to it originally in September 2021. Activision Blizzard still faces multiple suits from shareholders, former employees, and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
As per the settlement, current and former employees dating back to 1st September 2016, can submit a claim about sexual harassment, retaliation, or pregnancy discrimination, to be considered for relief.
According to , United States (US) District Judge Dale Fischer said she could not stop anyone from filing appeals but her intent was to sign the agreement during the virtual hearing on the settlement. The decree will reportedly remain in effect for three years.
DFEH lawsuit may be undermined by Activision Blizzard’s settlement
Prior to the EEOC lawsuit in September 2021, the DFEH sued Activision Blizzard in July 2021 for allegedly fostering “a frat boy culture” and for the company’s failure to handle sexual harassment and discrimination against female employees.
The EEOC, which is a federal agency, and the DFEH, which is a state agency, had locked horns over how much victims should receive from Activision Blizzard. The DFEH has been far more aggressive in its pursuit of compensation but fears that its case could be undermined due to the settlement between the federal agency and Activision Blizzard.
The Washington Post also noted the remarks of DFEH spokesperson Fahirah Alim who said, “The DFEH will continue to vigorously prosecute its action against Activision in California state court. In recent weeks, DFEH defeated Activision’s request that the Court dismiss DFEH’s case, and DFEH has sought documents and other evidence of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation violations over many years by Activision. The Court has set a trial date in February 2023.”
Additionally, victims who choose to become a part of the EEOC settlement cannot also be a part of the DFEH’s lawsuit on the specific issues of harassment, retaliation, or pregnancy discrimination. However, they can still continue with the California State suit for other claims like that of pay inequity, which is not covered by the EEOC agreement.
Addressing this settlement, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stated in a press release that it reflected Blizzard’s unwavering commitment to ensuring a safe and equitable working environment for all employees. “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,” he said.
In October 2021, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a labor union, which claimed to represent a number of Activision Blizzard employees, reportedly called the then-proposed $18 million USD settlement “woefully inadequate.”