After all the outrage over Activision Blizzard’s work practices it’s already settled with one government agency, while admitting no wrong doing.
Given the multiple accusations by staff and US government agencies it seemed as if the allegations concerning Activision Blizzard’s work culture, and numerous examples of alleged discrimination, might lead to a shift in culture at the publisher and perhaps even the industry at large.
The reality of the situation though is that Activision Blizzard has already settled one of the complaints for a mere $18 million (£13.2m). That amounts to just 12% of CEO Bobby Kotick’s controversial $154.6 million pay package and a mere 0.2% of the publisher’s total revenues last year.
The terms for the payment is that Activision Blizzard does not admit to having done anything wrong. Although this is the smallest of the several lawsuits and investigations that the publisher is facing, it has raised questions of whether the company – and others – will be forced to implement real change.
The investigation from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) only recently came to light, with Activision Blizzard choosing to avoid a court case by settling now.
As a result, they will pay $18 million to ‘eligible claimants’ that can prove their civil rights as employees were violated. The EEOC gets to choose who those people are, though, not Activision Blizzard.
The publisher also has to appoint a third party ‘equal employment opportunity coordinator’, approved by the EEOC, to oversee efforts to improve hiring and training practices.
Other than that though, that’s it, with the closest there being to an official acknowledgement of wrong doing being a consent decree which alleges that Activision Blizzard ‘engaged in unlawful employment practices by subjecting employees, individuals, or a group of individuals to sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and/or related retaliation’.
This is far from the end of the story though as Activision Blizzard is still under investigation by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the original state level lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). As well as an additional lawsuit filed by employees.
No doubt Activision Blizzard will be looking to settle those in a similar manner to how it handled the EEOC but it may not be able to avoid court with all of them, especially the SEC investigation, which has already subpoenaed Kotick and other top execs.
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