Video game publisher Activision Blizzard on Monday said it would pay $18 million in a settlement with the federal employment agency that filed a civil rights complaint against the company earlier in the day, alleging forced sexual harassment and discrimination against female employees.
In a press release, Activision said the money would “compensate and amend for eligible claimants,” with the remainder going to charities that “promote women in the video game industry or to raise awareness about issues of harassment and gender equality”, as well as to corporate diversity and inclusion efforts.
In a seven-page document filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accused Activision of discriminating against pregnant employees, paying employees female employees are shorter than their male counterparts because of their gender and retaliate against employees who have complained about unfair treatment.
The employees were subjected to “severe or pervasive sexual harassment to alter working conditions,” the complaint said, requesting a jury trial. “The behavior is unwelcome and adversely affects employees.” The complaint says “extensive” discussions with Activision to resolve the agency’s findings and come to an agreement have been unsuccessful.
The federal agency said the complaint follows a nearly three-year investigation that occurred while the California employment agency was also investigating Activision. The state investigation culminated in a lawsuit in July that caused upheaval at the game’s publisher.
The company said Monday’s settlement does not affect the California agency’s lawsuit.
Since July, other groups have weighed in. The Communications Workers of America, a labor union, filed a complaint this month with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing Activision of violating federal labor laws, and Activision said last week that the Commission The Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating the company.
The company said Monday that as part of the agreement, it will also improve its policies to prevent harassment and discrimination, and appoint an outside consultant to review review Activision’s investigative and reporting procedures.
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said: “Nowhere at our company has there been discrimination, harassment or unfair treatment of any kind, and I am grateful to those employees. members had the courage to share their experiences.” “I am sorry for anyone who has had to experience inappropriate behavior.”
In a separate legal filing, Activision denied “all allegations of misconduct” and said it agreed to a settlement to avoid “potential costs, distractions and litigation related to in connection with such a dispute”.