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: