Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay out $54 million to settle a discrimination claim it had a “frat boy” culture.
On Friday (Dec. 15) the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) announced the decision to the video game developers after a lawsuit lasting two years.
The statement says the settlement is to resolve issues where Activision Blizzard, now owned by Microsoft, “discriminated against women at the company, including by denying promotion opportunities and paying them less than men for doing substantially similar work.”
The settlement is still subject to court approval and requires the company to do more internally to eradicate any inequality and ensure fair pay and promotion practices. The financial settlement is to financially compensate women who worked at the company in California, either as employees or contractors, between October 12, 2015, and December 31, 2020.
The CRD spent two years investigating the company based in California before filing a 2021 lawsuit for alleged violations of California’s Equal Pay Act and Fair Employment and Housing Act.
According to a report in TechSpot, the settlement would have been higher, making it the largest settlement by CRD. Currently if approved by the courts it will be the second largest. The largest is a $100 million settlement with Riot Games over alleged gender discrimination. However, in the two years since the filing of the suit, the company has made efforts to rectify issues through actions such as hiring a dedicated diversity officer.
In 2021, CRD estimated Activision Blizzard’s liability to be as much as $1 billion to 2,500 employees who could have claims against them, reported The Wallstreet Journal.
The games company, famous for hit games such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, said in a statement on Saturday: “We appreciate the importance of the issues addressed in this agreement and we are dedicated to fully implementing all the new obligations we have assumed as part of it,” the statement also noted that “In the settlement agreement, the CRD expressly acknowledged that ‘no court or independent investigation has substantiated any allegations that there has been systemic or widespread sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard.”
Activision Blizzard has made other settlements
In 2021, Activision Blizzard paid $18 million in a settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the commission found that the company “failed to take corrective and preventive measures on sexual harassment complaints,” reported Reuters. They also paid $35 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission for inadequate disclosure controls and violation of whistleblower protection rules, according to the SEC.
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