The California Civil Rights Department announced Dec. 15 that it reached a $54 million settlement agreement with computer game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. to settle allegations of discrimination against women — both directly employed and contract workers.
The lawsuit affects women who were either employees or contract workers at Activision Blizzard in California between Oct. 12, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2020.
“California remains deeply committed to promoting and enforcing the civil rights of women in the workplace,” Kevin Kish, director at the department, said in a press release. “If approved by the court, this settlement agreement represents a major step forward and will bring direct relief to Activision Blizzard workers.”
Based in Santa Monica, California, the company publishes games such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero and Diablo.
In a statement to SIA, Activision Blizzard said:
“We are gratified that we have reached an agreement with the California Civil Rights Department [Dec. 15], as the CRD has now announced in a press statement. We appreciate the importance of the issues addressed in this agreement and we are dedicated to fully implementing all the new obligations we have assumed as part of it. We want our employees to know that, as the agreement specifies, we are committed to ensuring fair compensation and promotion policies and practices for all our employees, and we will continue our efforts regarding inclusion of qualified candidates from underrepresented communities in outreach, recruitment and retention.
“We are also gratified that the CRD has agreed to file an amended complaint that entirely withdraws its 2021 claims alleging widespread and systemic workplace harassment at Activision Blizzard. As the CRD acknowledged explicitly in the agreement, CRD is filing along with a proposed consent decree a second amended complaint that withdraws, among other allegations and causes of action, the fifth cause of action — ‘employment discrimination – because of sex – harassment.’ As the CRD also expressly acknowledged in the agreement, ‘no court or independent investigation has substantiated any allegations that there has been systemic or widespread sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard.’ In addition, the CRD has acknowledged that no court or independent investigation substantiated any allegations that Activision Blizzard’s board of directors, including its chief executive officer, Robert Kotick, acted improperly with regard to the handling of any instances of workplace misconduct.”
The California Civil Rights Department had filed a lawsuit against the company in 2021 following more than two years of investigation, according to the department. It reported the lawsuit sought relief for female employees and contractor workers who allegedly experienced discrimination in compensation, promotions and in other areas.
In addition to the payment, the settlement also requires Activision Blizzard to hire an independent consultant to evaluate and make recommendations regarding compensation and promotion policies and training materials.
This is the case that set in motion Microsoft’s eventual acquisition of Activision Blizzard, The Verge reported.
Activision Blizzard agreed to settle a separate lawsuit in 2022 for $18 million with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.