Activision-Blizzard says it’s settling with the EEOC, committing $18M to victims and charities

    
68
The Olympic committee looks really different now.

Last week, we covered the revelation that multiple federal agencies, including the US Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, were investigating Activision-Blizzard in the wake of its ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit and associated scandal, to say nothing of lawsuits by the California DFEH and the National Labor Relations Board. One of those four, the EEOC probe, has apparently come to an end.

According to Activision-Blizzard’s press release tonight, “it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to settle claims and to further strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination in the company’s workplace.”

“Activision Blizzard has committed to create an $18 million fund to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants. Any amounts not used for claimants will be divided between charities that 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. The agreement is subject to court approval. The company also announced an initiative to develop software tools and training programs to improve workplace policies and practices for employers across the technology industry.”

For context here, Activision-Blizzard was valued at $72B at the start of 2021.

The company also says it will be “upgrading policies, practices, and training to further prevent and eliminate harassment and discrimination in its workplaces, including implementing an expanded performance review system with a new equal opportunity focus” as well as “providing ongoing oversight and review of the Company’s training programs, investigation policies, disciplinary framework and compliance by appointing a third-party equal opportunity consultant whose findings will be regularly reported to [its] Board of Directors as well as the Commission.”

As we’ve been covering since July, Blizzard’s initial position on the first lawsuit was one of defiance and denial; in the weeks that followed, multiple staffers and execs have been fired, sponsors have abandoned the company, and the California DFEH accused the company of interfering with witnesses and shredding evidence relating to the lawsuit. We have also noted the rising labor movement within the company, countered by Activision-Blizzard contracting a union-busting firm. To date, Activision-Blizzard has neither acknowledged nor addressed any of the proto-union’s actual demands, which cover everything from mandatory arbitration and employee oversight to transparent compensation and a widespread audit of human resources.

The two lawsuits and the SEC probe continue on.

The whole saga:

Source: Press release. Cheers, GD.
Advertisement

No posts to display

68
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Bruno Brito

Just leaving this here.

Reader
Josh

I wish this shit surprised me, I really do.

Reader
Bryan Correll

That’s standard for this sort of thing and the only reason Blizz would ever agree to it. It isn’t for all employees as in ‘every single person working for Blizzard during that period,’ just ‘eligible claimants’ defined in the agreement as:

“Eligible Claimant” is a Claimant who, in the EEOC’s sole discretion, meets all of the following requirements: (i) was employed by Defendants at any time from September 1, 2016 to the Effective Date; and (ii) based on the EEOC’s assessment could assert a claim for sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, retaliation and/or constructive discharge** by Defendants. Such Eligible Claimants will be eligible for monetary relief from the Settlement Fund, as determined by the EEOC.

Effected employees are not required to accept the terms. They basically have two choices (three if you count not trying to get compensation at all.) They can agree to take part in this settlement which is more or less a guaranteed payment* if they are approved by the EEOC or file suit against Blizzard themselves with the possibility of higher compensation but the risk of getting nothing at all.

Some people will agree to the terms if for no other reason than to have this unpleasant part of their lives over and done with. Others will, either because they believe they deserve a higher payout or just as a matter of principle, go the route of pursuing their own suits. I would not judge either group for making the choice that they feel is in their own best interests.

* The amount an individual would receive from the fund is in large part based on just how many agree to participate. The EEOC is supposed to make distributions from the fund fairly, but the $18 million is a hard upper limit on the grand total to be proportioned out.
** Not being an expert on the subject I had to look up the meaning of ‘constructive discharge.’ It means a ‘voluntary’ resignation that isn’t really voluntary for some reason such as hostile work environment or deceit by the employer.

Reader
cherthedev

You left out eligibility criteria #3, which is anyone who feels they experienced harm.

Reader
Bryan Correll

It’s important to note that this is not the final resolution to all of Acti-Blizz’s regulatory problems. The EEOC is just one of a number of agencies that has been handling investigations.
The EEOC can not directly impose penalties. They can pursue civil, not criminal, cases against employers on behalf of employees. As with civil law in general they can, as in this case, agree to drop lawsuits in favor of settlements.
The $18 million is not a penalty that is being paid to the government. It is an amount that is to be paid to employee claimants who also agree to the settlement.
Employees who wish to pursue their own lawsuits against Acti-Blizz can still do so. But they can not receive funds from the settlement if they do.
The largest amount the EEOC has ever secured is $241.3 million, and that required a jury trial. That case makes Blizzard HQ look like paradise by comparison.

Reader
Dankey Kang

Wow that’s like 1/10th of Bobby’s bonus, almost.

Reader
IronSalamander8 .

Not even remotely surprised, but still disappointed. It should be much harsher.

Reader
Sarah Cushaway

Scumbag wealthy corporation gets away with scumbag stuff. More news at 11.

Reader
Utakata

So no accountability for the perps and their enablers then…

Reader
Bryan Correll

That’s not something the EEOC can handle. They can’t directly impose penalties at all. They can sue or settle on behalf of employees, but that’s it.

Reader
Utakata

I get that. By the nature of making this civil in nature, they can’t really prosecute. So if a deal is struck within the confines of the law, then that’s all they can do for now…

…in the opinion though, it does scream of legalized hush money though. Just saying. /bleh

Reader
Mercy Forever

It is USA .what can you expect ? With political campaigns run on big companies money . You think they will let anyone make example of them for widespread curb ?

Reader
soup4000

so less than 10% of bobby’s pay

Saluka
Reader
Saluka

So, 9% of an annual pay check to be allowed to jump up on top of office cubicals and run with no pants up and down the entire block of cubicals. (not something that actually happened but you get the idea)

Reader
Brinto Sfj

Who wants to bet that under the new “performance review” system, those whistleblowers would get the first boots?