As most of our readers probably remember all too well, Activision Blizzard experienced a veritable storm in July 2021 when it was sued by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for widespread harassment and discrimination against female employees.
The episode famously led to a walkout protest and the founding of A Better ABK by fellow Activision Blizzard employees, who advocated for better working conditions within the company. The stock crashed, eventually leading to more favorable conditions for Microsoft’s plan to acquire Activision Blizzard, which bore fruit just two months ago after a long battle with regulators (although the US Federal Trade Commission is still trying to undo the merger).
As for the aforementioned discrimination lawsuit, Activision Blizzard signed a settlement agreement with California’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in March 2022, agreeing to pay up to $18 million.
That appeared to be the end of the matter, but there was another state agency suing the company – the Civil Rights Department (CRD). Yesterday, the CRD announced that it had reached its own settlement with Activision Blizzard. California’s CRD Director Kevin Kish stated:
California remains deeply committed to promoting and enforcing the civil rights of women in the workplace. If approved by the court, this settlement agreement represents a major step forward and will bring direct relief to Activision Blizzard workers. At the California Civil Rights Department, we will continue to do our part to fight for the rights of our state’s residents.
Activision Blizzard will pay a total of $54.87 million in total, $45.75 million of which will go toward the settlement fund for workers. Women who worked as employees or contract workers for the company in California between October 12, 2015 and December 31, 2020 may be eligible to receive compensation from the fund. It isn’t time to apply yet, though, as the court needs to approve the agreement first.
Activision Blizzard will also have to:
- Distribute any excess settlement funds to charitable organizations focused on advancing women in the video game and technology industries or promoting awareness around gender equality issues in the workplace.
- Retain an independent consultant to evaluate and make recommendations regarding Activision Blizzard’s compensation and promotion policies and training materials.
As a reminder, Activision Blizzard employees may now take advantage of Microsoft’s labor neutrality agreement with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) to freely unionize.