Recently, Microsoft-owned video game publisher, Activision Blizzard, has reached a settlement agreement with a California state agency over allegations of gender discrimination. The case highlighted various instances of women being denied promotion opportunities and experiencing wage disparities. As part of the settlement, Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay nearly $55 million to provide relief to affected female employees and contractors, as well as cover legal fees.
Previous Legal Battles
This is not the first time Activision Blizzard has faced legal challenges regarding discrimination. In the past, the company settled a case with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which focused on issues such as sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and retaliation. As a result of that settlement, an $18 million fund was established to compensate victims. However, in 2021, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a new lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, alleging further instances of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that Activision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick, was aware of misconduct allegations within the company but did not disclose all relevant information to the board. This revelation led to a decline in the company’s share value, ultimately prompting talks between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard regarding acquisition. Eventually, Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard in a $69 billion deal that closed in October 2022, following careful scrutiny by regulators in the U.S. and Europe.
As part of the agreement, the Los Angeles County Superior Court must approve Activision Blizzard’s settlement with the state agency. According to the proposed settlement agreement, the new complaint will exclude previous harassment allegations. However, the agreement will require Activision Blizzard to prioritize the inclusion of underrepresented individuals in their recruitment process. Additionally, unless compensation is non-negotiable, the company must inform job applicants in writing at the start of the hiring and promotion processes that they have the right to negotiate their pay.
In response to the settlement, Activision Blizzard expressed their dedication to fully implementing the new obligations outlined in the agreement. They stated that they recognize the significance of the issues addressed and are committed to making positive changes within the organization.
The settlement reached between Activision Blizzard and a California state agency is an important step towards rectifying gender discrimination within the company. The significant financial settlement and the commitment to fostering inclusion and transparency during hiring and promotion processes demonstrate a willingness to address past wrongs and work towards a more equitable future. It is crucial that companies take responsibility for their actions and proactively address issues of discrimination in order to promote a fair and inclusive work environment.