Activision Blizzard Settles with EEOC For $18M
March 30, 2022
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has approved and entered the consent decree between Activision Blizzard, Inc. and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which includes $18 million in monetary relief and significant injunctive relief, the federal agency announced today.
Judge Dale Fischer found the consent decree was “fair, reasonable and adequate and advance[s] the public interest.”
By signing the three-year consent decree, the court has resolved the lawsuit alleging the companies violated federal law by subjecting female employees to sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and related retaliation. This ruling includes not only Activision Blizzard, Inc., a Southern California-based video game development and publishing company, but also Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., Activision Publishing, Inc. and King.com, Inc. (collectively referred to as Activision Blizzard) and the entities’ subsidiaries.
“Combating sexual harassment remains a top priority for the EEOC, and we will vigorously enforce federal laws against it,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “Every employee deserves to be treated with dignity and to work free from unlawful harassment and retaliation. I’m encouraged when employers agree to work with the EEOC to address discrimination in their workplaces.”
On Sept. 27, 2021, the EEOC filed a lawsuit alleging that Activision Blizzard violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and retaliation for complaining about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., et al., Case No. 2:21-cv-07682) along with a consent decree following conciliation discussions with Activision Blizzard.
Individuals who believe they were sexually harassed, discriminated against because of pregnancy, or experienced related retaliation against while working at Activision Blizzard, Inc., Blizzard Entertainment Inc., Activision Publishing, Inc., or King.com Inc., or their subsidiaries, may be entitled to monetary relief and victim-specific relief. Individuals who were employed from Sept. 1, 2016 to the present and experienced sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, or related retaliation, are encouraged to make a claim. .
This settlement covers all U.S. locations of Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, Activision Publishing and King.com.
In addition to monetary relief, Activision Blizzard agreed to substantial injunctive relief aimed at preventing workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. The decree will be implemented throughout the companies, including locations in California, Wisconsin, New York, Minnesota, Texas and Arkansas. The companies agreed to, among other things:
- A neutral, third-party equal employment opportunity (EEO) consultant, overseen by the EEOC;
- Audits on pending and current complaints to determine the effectiveness of the handling of the complaints;
- Submit to unannounced audits of current employees to assess whether sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and related retaliation issues are properly being addressed. Semi-annual reports will be provided to the EEOC for review for the duration of the decree;
- Provide that the EEO consultant shall oversee and review the companies’ policies and procedures for handling complaints. Additionally, the companies have agreed that company policies will also apply to interns and temps, the online gaming environment, and additional policies such as an alcohol policy and workplace relationship policies will be implemented;
- Provide that climate surveys will be implemented as determined by the EEO consultant;
- Provide anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training that includes bystander intervention and civility. The consultant will review the content and effectiveness of all trainings;
- Provide that human resources personnel will attend training designed for HR investigations;
- Evaluate their disciplinary framework and protocols to ensure that the actions taken by the companies lead to effective corrective and preventative measures;
- Implement a performance review system for managers, supervisors, and human resources personnel that includes an EEO component;
- Expand mental health counseling services available to its employees who have experienced sexual harassment at any time;
- A centralized tracking system for complaints of discrimination and harassment;
- A toll-free hotline for employees and staffing agency workers to report complaints, even anonymously, that shall be monitored 24/7;
- Create an internal EEO coordinator position to work with the EEO consultant to ensure compliance with the decree; and
- Comprehensive record keeping and reporting mechanisms.
The decree also provides for victim-specific relief to allow for employees who have experienced sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, or related retaliation to remove potentially harmful information from their personnel files so they can move forward with a clean record.
Christine Park-Gonzalez, acting director of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, said, “We commend the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences with us. We hope that former and current employees of Activision take advantage of the comprehensive relief secured by the EEOC on their behalf so that they can move forward.”
Anna Park, regional attorney for the Los Angeles District Office, added, “We recognize Activision Blizzard for agreeing to a substantial injunctive relief that reflects its commitment to being a change agent in an industry that struggles with harassment in the workplace. We encourage others in the industry to examine their practices to ensure a workplace free of harassment and retaliation. The EEOC remains vigilant to remedy issues of harassment and discrimination wherever we find them.”