Monday night, we reported on a planned settlement between Activision-Blizzard and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC was one of four state and federal agencies investigating and/or suing the company in relation to its ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination scandal. But Blizzard announced plans to settle the EEOC-related claims by creating an $18M fund “to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants,” with the excess divided among relevant charities “as approved by the EEOC.”
Disapproval from within the industry was almost immediate, as gamers and workers rushed to point out that while $18M would be a great payout for a handful of victims, we’re talking about kind of a lot of claimants since the days of the Cosby Crew, and moreover, it isn’t a significant sum in context. Activision-Blizzard itself is valued at around $72B. Bobby Kotick will take home $155M this year. As of the company’s last revenue report, it makes about $25M per day. So $18M for years of abusive practices seems like neither sufficient restitution nor sufficient punishment. In context, it could be perceived as a slap on the wrist.
If that’s your position, then you’ll be gratified to know that labor organizers agree with you. The Campaign to Organize Digital Employees, the branch of the Communications Workers of America union relevant to the gaming industry, issued a fiery response to the settlement, calling it “mere pennies considering the resources available to this cash-rich corporation.”
“The U.S. Equal Employment opportunity Commission has a sent a message that corporate bad actors will not be held accountable for their abuse of workers,” CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens wrote.
It's time for REAL accountability for bad corporate actors—workers deserve as much & so much more. pic.twitter.com/mfbsxZmfsc
— CODE-CWA (@CODE_CWA) September 29, 2021
As we’ve been covering since July, in the wake of the initial lawsuit from the California DFEH, multiple Blizzard 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. With the EOCC contented, Blizzard now faces the California lawsuit, the National Labor Relations Board lawsuit, and the SEC investigation.
The whole saga: