Activision Blizzard, the video game publisher, announced Monday that it had reached a settlement with the Federal Employment Administration, which had filed a civil-rights complaint against the company earlier in the day, accusing it of sexual harassment and discrimination against female employees. The settlement amount was $18 million.
As stated in a news release, Activision stated that the money would be used to “compensate and make amends to eligible claimants,” with any remaining funds being donated to charities that “advance women in the video game industry or promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues,” as well as to the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.
According to the lawsuit, employees were exposed to “sexual harassment that was serious or pervasive enough to change the terms of employment.” A jury trial was requested. “The behavior was inappropriate and had a negative impact on the workers.” According to the complaint, “extensive” talks with Activision to resolve the agency’s findings and come to an agreement had been unsuccessful due to a lack of progress.
The lawsuit, according to the federal agency, was the result of a nearly three-year inquiry that took place at the same time as a California employment agency was examining Activision. The state investigation resulted in a lawsuit filed in July, which prompted a flurry of activity within the game publisher.
According to the business, the settlement reached on Monday has no effect on the California agency’s complaint.
Since July, a number of additional organizations have expressed their opinions. Labor union Communications Workers of America filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this month, accusing Activision of breaching federal labor laws. Last week, Activision said that the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating the business as well.
In addition, according to the business, as part of the settlement, it will strengthen its rules to avoid harassment and discrimination and hire an external consultant to evaluate Activision’s reporting and investigation processes, according to a statement released Monday.
A second court filing by Activision said that it vigorously disputed “any accusations of misconduct” and that it had agreed to the settlement in order to avoid the “cost, distraction, and potential litigation associated with a dispute of this kind.”