Activision Blizzard, the publisher-studio giant behind franchises like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch, is set to bring an end to one of the multiple lawsuits filed against it with an $18 million settlement.
It must be approved by the courts first, of course, and according to The Washington Post, U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer is “prepared to approve” Activision Blizzard’s $18 million settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It’s important to note that this lawsuit is just one of many Activision Blizzard is facing and you can read more about the others, including this one filed last week, here.
“The Court is generally satisfied that both the monetary relief and the nonmonetary provisions are fair, reasonable, and adequate,” a California court filing published today reads, according to The Washington Post.
These filings call the opposition’s – in this case, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing which has its own lawsuit against Activision Blizzard – evidence “speculative.” As noted by Kotaku, during this settlement hearing, a DFEH lawyer argued to a judge that the EEOC’s motion to proceed with this settlement was in violation of states’ rights to its own judicial proceedings. On the other hand, the EEOC said that the DFEH had months to make this claim but waited until the “eleventh hour” to do so, going as far as to accuse the DFEH of delaying proceedings related to this lawsuit. The judge agreed and said DFEH’s argument was “untimely,” according to Kotaku, and that if a party disagreed with them, they could take it to the ninth circuit court.
“We are pleased the Court recognizes our agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is fair, adequate, and in the public interest,” Activision Blizzard said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Our goal has always been to provide immediate and meaningful compensation to eligible employees who choose to participate and to continue workplace improvements that make Activision Blizzard a model for our industry.”
The DFEH worries that if this settlement goes through, it will lose the opportunity to pursue further damages at a state court level, since this settlement would be happening on a federal level.
“The DFEH will continue to vigorously prosecute its action against Activision in California state court,” DFEH spokesperson Fahizah Alim said in a statement to The Washington Post. “In recent weeks, DFEH defeated Activision’s request that the Court dismiss DFEH’s case, and DFEH has sought documents and other evidence of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation violations over many years by Activision. The Court has set a trial date in February 2023.”
A lawyer The Washington Post spoke to said claimants for both the EEOC’s case, which is getting primed for a settlement, and the DFEH’s suit could opt-in to receive compensation from this $18 million settlement. However, if they do choose to do that, they would be disqualified from continuing forward in the DFEH suit. The DFEH does not want this to happen, which is why it and the EEOC are at odds with each other in regards to these lawsuits.
If this $18 million settlement is approved, it would be the EEOC’s second-largest sexual harassment settlement ever negotiated by the federal agency. According to The Washington Post’s report, money from the $18 million settlement will go toward creating harassment and discrimination prevention programs at Activision Blizzard, to be audited by the EEOC. Leftover funding could go to charities related to women in gaming, or charities committed to spreading awareness of gender equality issues in gaming.
Speaking non-monetarily, this settlement includes provisions that require Activision Blizzard to expand its mental health counseling services and add new personnel evaluation processes that allow employees to leave feedback in regards to their bosses, according to The Washington Post. On top of that, an independent equal-opportunity employment expert will have to be hired by Activision Blizzard and they will report to the EEOC, and the company will also be required to give mandatory sexual harassment training. These terms would remain for three years and if Activision Blizzard breaks the terms, the EEOC could seek monetary relief.
[Source: The Washington Post]