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Activision Blizzard to pay $18 million settlement over discrimination claim

Activision Blizzard has agreed to an $18 million settlement with a U.S. federal agency regarding claims of discrimination and sexual harassment and will commit to new inclusion initiatives across the tech industry.
Video game behemoth, Activision Blizzard, has agreed to an $18 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after a civil-rights complaint was filed at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, regarding allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at the company.

According to an NYT report, Activision was accused of gender-based discrimination after "paying female employees less than their male counterparts" and by "retaliating against employees who complained about unfair treatment." Activision subsequently announced its agreement to settle with the federal employment agency in a consent decree, issued in a press release published on 27th September.

Activision Blizzard to pay $18 million settlement over discrimination claim

In its official statement, Activision Blizzard announced their commitment "to create an $18 million fund to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants." The company noted, however, that this agreement is subject to approval by the court.

Activision Blizzard to pay $18 million settlement over discrimination claim
Activision Blizzard to pay $18 million settlement over discrimination claim. (Picture: Activision)

The video game company continued to add that any funds that weren't used would be used to "advance women in the video game industry or promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues as well as company diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, as approved by the EEOC."

Activision Blizzard also announced that they would be developing tools and training programs to aid efforts "to improve workplace policies and practices for employers across the tech space."

Activision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick, condemns discrimination at the company.
Activision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick, condemns discrimination at the company. (Picture: Picture: Bloomberg / Getty Images)

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, condemned discrimination at the company and made a statement, 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. 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 fulfil our commitments to eradicate inappropriate conduct in the workplace," Kotick added.

The NYT reported that the EEOC had been investigating Activision Blizzard for nearly 3 years. This investigation began around the same time as the investigation led by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) into the company's "frat boy" workplace culture, which later culminated in a lawsuit that was filed at the Superior Court of California County of Los Angeles in July of this year.

The EEOC had been investigating Activision Blizzard for nearly 3 years
The EEOC had been investigating Activision Blizzard for nearly 3 years. (Picture: Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash)

This present settlement agreement, however, is not an admission of guilt. The company cited the reasoning behind its settlement, saying that it wanted to avoid "the expense, distraction and possible litigation associated with such a dispute" and subsequently denied "all allegations of wrongdoing."

While Activision Blizzard will not face a jury trial for the present claim, there are at least two other lawsuits still under investigation, namely by the DFEH and SEC, as well as other federal complaints having been made against the company.

We will endeavour to update you on further developments regarding this story.

 

Don't forget to check out our general video games section for industry news, guides, leaks, and much more.

Featured image courtesy of Activision Blizzard.