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Home / lawsuit settlement

Activision Blizzard settles sex discrimination claims for $54M

Video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. will pay approximately $54 million to settle claims that the Santa Monica-based company discriminated against women, state officials announced.

If finalized, the settlement would resolve accusations that Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment Inc. and Activision Publishing Inc. denied women promotion opportunities and paid them less than men for doing similar work, the California Civil Rights Department said Friday.

“California remains deeply committed to promoting and enforcing the civil rights of women in the workplace,” CRD Director Kevin Kish said in a statement. “If approved by the court, this settlement agreement represents a major step forward and will bring direct relief to Activision Blizzard workers. At the California Civil Rights Department, we will continue to do our part to fight for the rights of our state’s residents.”

Attempts to reach the company for a comment were not immediately successful.

Under the agreement, Activision Blizzard will take additional steps to help ensure fair pay and promotion practices at the company and provide monetary relief to women who were employees or contract workers in California between Oct. 12, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2020.

After more than two years of investigation, the CRD filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in 2021 for alleged violations of California’s Equal Pay Act and Fair Employment and Housing Act. In the lawsuit filed before the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the department sought relief on behalf of a class of female employees and contract workers who allegedly experienced discrimination in compensation, promotions and other aspects of Activision Blizzard’s workplace.

Friday’s announcement is in addition to measures Activision Blizzard has implemented through a separate 2021 consent decree with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other proactive recruitment and retention steps as described in the company’s 2022 Environmental, Social, and Governance Report.

If approved by the court, the settlement agreement will require Activision Blizzard to:

  • Pay approximately $54.8 million to cover direct relief to workers and litigation costs. Of the total, approximately $45.7 million will go to a settlement fund dedicated to compensating workers.
  • Distribute any excess settlement funds to charitable organizations focused on advancing women in the video game and technology industries or promoting awareness around gender equality issues in the workplace.
  • Retain an independent consultant to evaluate and make recommendations regarding Activision Blizzard’s compensation and promotion policies and training materials.
  • Continue its efforts regarding inclusion of qualified candidates from underrepresented communities in outreach, recruitment and retention.

The company behind such hugely popular games as “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Guitar Hero” has been dogged by complaints of alleged discrimination and sexual harassment in recent years.

In September, an Activision Blizzard employee who sued the video game maker, alleging she suffered a backlash for complaining about sexual harassment and discrimination while working in the IT department’s “frat boy atmosphere,” dropped her lawsuit.

Attorneys for the plaintiff identified only as Jane Doe filed papers asking that their client’s case be dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning in cannot be refiled. The papers did not state if a settlement was reached, but previous court papers filed on Aug. 23 stated that the case “may soon settle.” No terms were referred to in any of the court papers.

In their court papers, Activision Blizzard attorneys denied the plaintiff’s allegations and cited multiple defenses, including that her claims were barred by the statute of limitations, that she had not pursued an internal grievance before suing and that she had agreed to arbitrate rather than litigate any disputes.

According to Doe’s suit, Activision Blizzard “is a massive video game company with a massive sexual harassment problem.” The suit filed in March 2022 alleged sexual battery, failure to prevent harassment, sexual favoritism and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In October, software giant Microsoft completed a $69 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard in one of the biggest tech deals of all time.

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