Activision Reaches $18M Deal To Resolve EEOC Gender Bias Case

Activision Blizzard announced Monday that they have reached an $18 million agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to settle claims over sexual harassment and discrimination in the company’s workplace.

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The $18 million will contribute to a fund “to compensate and make amends” to female employees who said they experienced a “frat boy” work environment rife with pay bias and sexual harassment while working for the gaming giant behind games like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush.

Under the proposed deal, Activision will also be required to update its policies, practices and training to prevent and eliminate harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

According to the filing in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, the EEOC started their investigation of Activision three years ago, following allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. The government entity ultimately found the company failed to take corrective and preventive measures with their sexual harassment complaints.

“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 statement Monday.

“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,” he added. “We will continue to be vigilant in our commitment to the elimination of harassment and discrimination in the workplace.”

Activision Blizzard said any of the $18 million fund not used for claimants will be contributed to nonprofit organizations that advance women in the video game and tech industries or promote awareness around sexual harassment and gender equality.

The agreement follows about a week after Blizzard Entertainment’s chief legal officer Claire Hart announced she was leaving the company to “move on to my next adventure.” Her departure came less than two months after Blizzard Entertainment’s president, J. Allen Brack, resigned.

Activision is currently being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, with the agency looking into the company’s disclosures regarding “employment matters and related issues”, the SEC has issued subpoenas to the company and several employees.

Shareholders have also sued Activision Blizzard, claiming the company and its executives intentionally hid that the state was investigating its company culture and treatment of women.

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