A federal court judge has approved Activision Blizzard’s $18 million settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed last year by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Current and former employees dating back to September 1, 2016, can submit a claim about sexual harassment, retaliation or pregnancy discrimination, to be considered for relief.
While the EEOC settlement is the second largest of its kind the agency has ever agreed, it is not without its critics, including the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
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The EEOC, which is a federal agency, and the DFEH, which is a state agency, have been engaged in a dispute over how much victims should receive from Activision Blizzard, with the latter being far more aggressive in its pursuit of compensation.
The DFEH fears its case, which is scheduled to go to trial in February 2023, may be undermined by today’s settlement, which it had been attempting to delay.
As reported by the Washington Post, victims who become part of the EEOC settlement can’t also be part of the DFEH’s lawsuit on the specific issues of harassment, retaliation or pregnancy discrimination.
Last October, labour union the Communications Workers of America, which is representing a number of current and former Activision Blizzard employees, called the then-proposed $18 million settlement “woefully inadequate”, noting that it would “provide the maximum settlement for only 60 workers” when many more may have been adversely affected.
Last year, Riot Games agreed to pay $100 million to settle a class action lawsuit over gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and remedy violations against approximately 1,065 women employees and 1,300 women contract workers.
Riot had agreed to pay just $10 million to settle the class action lawsuit in December 2019, before the DFEH intervened and helped drive the figure up.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said today: “Our goal is to make Activision Blizzard a model for the industry, and we will continue to focus on eliminating harassment and discrimination from our workplace.
“The court’s approval of this settlement is an important step in ensuring that our employees have mechanisms for recourse if they experienced any form of harassment or retaliation.”