Activision Blizzard Nears $18 Million Sexual Harassment Settlement
Activision Blizzard's $18 million sexual harassment and workplace misconduct settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is likely to be approved by the presiding judge, the Washington Post reports.
U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer is "prepared to approve" the settlement, according to a California court filing published Tuesday.
"The Court is generally that both the monetary relief and the nonmonetary provisions are fair, reasonable, and adequate," reads the filing.
Activision Blizzard expressed satisfaction with the court's forthcoming approval in a statement to the Post.
"Our goal has always been to provide immediate and meaningful compensation to eligible employees who choose to participate and to continue workplace improvements that make Activision Blizzard a model for our industry," the company said.
This settlement comes out of one of two investigations into Activision Blizzard's reportedly toxic workplace. The first was the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing's, which went public in July 2021, and it accused the company of a "frat boy" workplace culture. In September, Activision Blizzard agreed to settle a second suit from the EEOC by creating an $18 million fund for harassment and discrimination victims.
The DFEH objected to the EEOC's settlement, arguing it both underpaid victims and barred the DFEH from pursuing further damages at the state level. Indeed, claimants for both the EEOC and DFEH suits could choose to receive compensation from the EEOC settlement, but doing so would disqualify them from further participation in the DFEH suit. The DFEH was previously prevented from blocking the settlement.
"The DFEH will continue to vigorously prosecute its action against Activsion in California state court," said DFEH spokesperson Fahizah Alim. "In recent weeks, DFEH defeated Activision's request that the court dismiss DFEH's case, and DFEH has sought documents and other evidence of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation violations over many years by Activision. The Court has set a trial date in February 2023."
The $18 million settlement would be the second largest sexual harassment settlement the EEOC has ever negotiated. It would be spread across potentially hundreds of victims. Meanwhile, Activision made $2.16 billion in revenue in revenue in the quarter ending in December, and more than $8.8 billion in revenue in 2021.
The $18 million would pay for the establishment of harassment and discrimination prevention programs at Activision Blizzard that the EEOC would audit. Funds left over could go to charities working to advance women in gaming or spreading awareness about gender equality issues. Activision is legally required to put the funds into an escrow account within 30 days of the court's approving the settlement.
The settlement would also require Activision to expand mental health counseling services and add a personnel evaluation process for employees to leave feedback on their bosses. The company would also be required to hire an equal employment opportunity expert that reports to the EEOC, and give mandatory sexual harassment training, for three years.
In addition to the DFEH suit, Activision is being sued by the family of a former employee that claims her suicide was the direct result of harassment she experienced at the company.