Activision Blizzard has reached a historic settlement with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, committing to pay almost $55 million to address serious allegations of discrimination against women in the video game industry.
The workplace discrimination settlement, announced prominently on Friday, December 15, 2023, is pending court approval. Of the total sum, approximately $46 million will go towards compensating women who worked or were hired by the company in California between October 2015 and December 2020.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in 2021 after a thorough two-year investigation into alarming allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination within the company.
The agency accused the company of violating the California Equal Pay Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act. As part of the settlement agreement, it withdrew claims of widespread and systemic harassment.
In September 2021, Activision Blizzard had already reached an $18 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to address similar accusations related to inadequate handling of sexual harassment and discrimination against women.
These events had significant repercussions on Microsoft’s acquisition of the company, which was finalized in October.
The settlement imposes several obligations on Activision Blizzard, including:
- Monetary Relief and Litigation Costs: The company must provide monetary compensation to affected workers and cover associated legal costs.
- Independent Review: Hiring an independent consultant to assess and recommend improvements to compensation and promotion policies, as well as training materials.
- Diversity and Commitment: Continuing outreach and recruitment efforts targeted at candidates from underrepresented communities.
In February, the Securities and Exchange Commission imposed a $35 million fine on Activision Blizzard for inadequate disclosures about how its response to labor complaints negatively impacted its ability to attract and retain qualified employees, as well as alleged whistleblower protection violations.
In response, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson stated via email: “We appreciate the significance of the issues addressed in this agreement and are committed to fully implementing all the new obligations we have undertaken as part of it.”