Activision Blizzard said Tuesday a federal court will approve its $18 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over a lawsuit charging sexual harassment and retaliation.
The EEOC filed its case last September, following a separate suit by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. According to the EEOC complaint against the Santa Monica-based Fortune 500 company behind Call of Duty, Warcraft and Candy Crush, Activision’s female employees were subjected to sexual harassment that was “severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment.”
The settlement was reached last fall and the judge’s decision to approve it removes some legal overhang after Microsoft in January agreed to acquire Activision for $95 a share in an all-cash deal worth close to $70 billion.
The $18 million fund will compensate claimants. Those who file claims will waive the right to join DFEH state court proceedings. Beyond the fund, Activision earlier this month hired hire an internal EEO coordinator. It also agreed to waived arbitration for individual sexual harassment claims and committed to invest $250 million over 10 years in initiatives for expanded opportunities in gaming and technology for under-represented communities.
The company has also developed stricter alcohol policies company wide. The California suit includes allegations of heavy drinking by male employees in a “frat boy” culture.
“We are gratified that the federal court that reviewed our settlement with the EEOC is finding that it is ‘fair, reasonable and adequate and advance(s) the public interest.’ The Court’s approval is a vital step in our journey to ensuring that everyone at Activision Blizzard always feels safe, heard and empowered,” said CEO Bobby Kotick.
Activision Blizzard and its board of directors are also facing separate shareholder lawsuits — one claims undue enrichment and violation of the Securities Exchange Act in the sale to Microsoft, another alleges negligence in the company’s handling of sexual harassment and discrimination reports.
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