Activision Blizzard announced today that they have now created an $18 million fund to pay out claims of a hostile workplace and harassment. If you're not completely up to date on what's been happening, you can read our story about the recent federal investigation the company got hit with from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has a lot of the finer cliff notes as to what's been going on the past few months after the state of California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit for having a poor office culture with allegations of sexual misconduct. Originally the company claimed they were going to fight the accusations, however, that led to a near company-wide walkout and more stories coming out about more harassment over the years. The staff eventually filed a lawsuit of their own after Activision Blizzard started working with WilmerHale, who have been known to apply union-busting tactics, as they claim the company's leadership failed to meaningfully address their requests.
The $18m fund that has been announced today is part of a settlement agreement from the original lawsuit from the state of California that kicked all of this off. The company dropped a press release about the matter, which we have a snippet of below. How exactly those claims are going to be recognized and paid out has yet to be addressed, and we have yet to hear what else is included in the settlement beyond the company agreeing to strengthen their policies and procedures concerning the matters addressed in the lawsuit, which we're guessing the state of California will reveal at a later time. This settlement does not include the one filed by their own staff or puts off the federal investigation, so we'll see where those two things stand in the days to come.
Commenting on the agreement, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said: "There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind, and I am grateful to the employees who bravely shared their experiences. I am sorry that anyone had to experience inappropriate conduct, and I remain unwavering in my commitment to make Activision Blizzard one of the world's most inclusive, respected, and respectful workplaces."
Kotick added: "We will continue to be vigilant in our commitment to the elimination of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. We thank the EEOC for its constructive engagement as we work to fulfill our commitments to eradicate inappropriate conduct in the workplace."
In addition to the agreed funds, the company is taking additional steps, including:
- Upgrading policies, practices, and training to further prevent and eliminate harassment and discrimination in its workplaces, including implementing an expanded performance review system with a new equal opportunity focus;
- Providing ongoing oversight and review of the Company's training programs, investigation policies, disciplinary framework and compliance by appointing a third-party equal opportunity consultant whose findings will be regularly reported to our Board of Directors as well as the Commission.