Activision Blizzard to pay $18M to settle sexual harassment lawsuit

EEOC's lawsuit charged the gaming giant with failing to adequately address employees' complaints of harassment.

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Several hundred Activision Blizzard employees stage a walkout.

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Activision Blizzard said Monday it has agreed to pay $18 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed earlier in the day by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that accused the company violating the civil rights of employees by subjecting them to sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and retaliation. 

"Employees were subjected sexual harassment that was severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment," according to the EEOC's lawsuit, which was filed a lawsuit in California federal court and lists the company and 10 John Does as defendants. "The conduct was unwelcome and adversely affected the employees."

The complaint went on to charge that although some employees lodged complaints about the harassment, the company failed to take measures to end it.

Activision Blizzard said Monday it had reached a settlement agreement with the EEOC in which it would create an $18 million fund to "compensate and make amends to eligible claimants." The company also said it would strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination among its workforce.

"There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind, and I am grateful to the employees who bravely shared their experiences," Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement. "I am sorry that anyone had to experience inappropriate conduct, and I remain unwavering in my commitment to make Activision Blizzard one of the world's most inclusive, respected and respectful workplaces."

The EEOC declined to comment.

The lawsuit is just the latest in a series of complaints against the company, one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, with more $2.2 billion in profit last year.

California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in July accusing the company of having a "frat boy" work environment and alleges several alarming incidents of discrimination and harassment.

Many employees have spoken out in support of the claims, with more than 2,000 signing an open letter calling for the company to take action to support the harassment victims. Employees also held a walkout protest on July 28 to demand greater action from the company.

A complaint to the National Labor Relations Board earlier this month accuses the company of allegedly threatening or intimidating employees who were speaking out on workplace harassment. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has also opened an investigation into the company, seeking documents, board meeting minutes and other disclosures since 2019 related to the complaints of sexual misconduct.