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Video game firm to pay $55million for discriminating against women workers

Video game firm to pay $55million for discriminating against women workers

Business

The settlement agreement addresses allegations of pay and promotion inequity

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(Web Desk) - Activision Blizzard, the video game giant, agreed to pay nearly $55 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against women, the California Civil Rights Department.

The agency first filed the complaint against the "Call of Duty" maker in July 2021 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that women at the company were paid less than men, and were subjected to "constant sexual harassment, including groping, comments and advances."

The lawsuit also alleged that the executives and human resources staff at Activision ignored the discrimination and retaliated against women who complained.

The Santa Monica, California-based video game company was acquired by Microsoft for $69 billion in October after nearly two years of regulatory scrutiny in the largest ever deal in the gaming industry.

Friday’s settlement agreement addresses the allegations of pay and promotion inequity, and requires Activision to take steps to ensure fair pay and promotions at the company, as well as to provide payouts to California-based women who were employees or contract workers at the company between Oct. 12, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2020.

The California regulator withdrew its systemic harassment claims, according to the agreement, as “no court or independent investigation has substantiated any allegations that there has been systemic or widespread sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard."

The agency also acknowledged that there were no findings that the company's board of directors or its Chief Executive Robert Kotick mishandled workplace misconduct.

"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," an Activision spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Messenger.

Of the approximately $54.88 million settlement, about $45.75 million will go towards a settlement fund dedicated to compensating workers.

Any leftover settlement funds will go to charities focused on advancing women in the video game and technology industries or organizations promoting gender equality awareness in the workplace, the agency said.

If approved by the court, the settlement would be the second-largest secured by the California regulator, slightly more than half the size of the $100 million settlement between the agency and Riot Games last year for alleged gender discrimination.

The regulator sought a higher penalty for Activision than it had received from Riot, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the settlement.

In June 2022, the video game maker released a summary of an internal review carried out in the aftermath of the California Civil Rights Department's original complaint.

While Activision acknowledged that there were "some substantiated instances of gender harassment," it did not show evidence of systemic issues at the company.