Activision Blizzard Settles Sex Discrimination and Harassment Claims for $18M
Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor
October 5, 2021
Activision Blizzard will pay $18 million to settle sexual discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had sued the developer of the popular video games World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, claiming repeated violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Female employees at Activision had claimed that they were subject to rampant sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation. They accused the company of having a "frat boy" workplace culture. Men routinely objectified women's bodies, engaged in inappropriate comments and behavior and belittled their female colleagues with impunity, the women said. They also alleged that women who complained were denied roles in key projects, transferred to other units and targeted for layoffs.
In addition, female employees claimed that Activision engaged in pregnancy discrimination. They said medical restrictions for women were ignored and supervisors gave negative reviews to employees out on maternity leave.
In the consent decree resolving the case, the company agreed to set up an $18 million fund to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants. Any funds remaining will be divided between charities that work to advance women in the video game industry or that promote awareness of harassment and gender equality issues, and to support company diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Fund usage must be approved by the EEOC.
In addition to the monetary payment, Activision has also agreed to:
- Conduct annual compliance audits of its departments and employees' claims;
- Review and revise its workplace policies and procedures to ensure they promote a workplace free of discrimination, harassment and retaliation;
- Provide training on preventing workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation; and
- Report on its efforts to the EEOC every six months.
In announcing the settlement, Activision 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."
Although this resolves the EEOC complaint, Activision also is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and is facing similar sexual discrimination charges in California, as well as charges that it withheld evidence and shredded documents related to the state's investigation.