Activision Blizzard, the video game designer behind such popular classics as Call of Duty and Candy Crush, has reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over sexual harassment and discrimination claims.
The $18 million settlement with the government is designed to compensate a number of affected employees. In addition, Activision Blizzard has agreed to do more to stop workplace harassment and discrimination in the future by adding more robust policies and training.
What led to this settlement?
Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick stated “There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind,” in part of his press release, but the company is still facing other complaints about its “frat boy” culture and the abuses faced by women employees.
According to the complaints against the company:
- Women employees were constantly subjected to comments about their bodies.
- “Rape jokes” and groping were virtually a standard practice.
- Women were paid less than men for comparable work or simply given lower-level jobs.
- Pregnant employees were harassed and discriminated against.
- Anyone who complained about harassment or discrimination was fired.
It got so bad that employees eventually staged a walkout. While this settlement is a step in the right direction, the company is still facing a lawsuit over gender discrimination by California’s civil rights agency and complaints by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its handling of discrimination and harassment allegations.
In addition, the Communications Workers of America union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over allegations that managers threatened employees for talking about their working conditions and wages.
Most people think of sexual harassers as “lone wolves” or just a few bad apples in an otherwise good company, but that discounts the problems that come with a toxic company culture. If you’ve been victimized, find out more about your legal options.