A US judge has approved Activision Blizzard's $18 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), wrapping up one of the many discrimination lawsuits brought against the company. The lawsuit had outlined details of sexual harassment, sex discrimination relating to its handling of pregnancy and retaliation against its female employees.
The settlement was originally agreed upon in September 2021 but was put on hold after objections from the Department For Employment and Housing the following month. The two agencies have been scrapping with each other throughout, with each having its own individual lawsuit. While the DFEH argued that the EEOC's settlement would cause "irreparable harm" to its own suit, the EEOC then fired back by claiming the DFEH had two lawyers that were operating under ethical violations. Former Blizzard employee Jessica Gonzelez was also denied a motion to intervene in the proposed settlement.
Despite concerns that the EEOC settlement would undermine the DFEH's own pursuit, District Judge Dale Fischer has approved the settlement (thanks, Washington Post). The court filing from Tuesday's hearing states: "The Court is generally satisfied that both the monetary relief and the nonmonetary provisions are fair, reasonable and adequate."
The $18 million settlement will be put towards harassment and discrimination prevention programmes at Activision Blizzard, with oversight from the EEOC. The remaining funds will be donated to selected charities by the EEOC, focusing on those related to women in the games industry and those tackling gender equality issues. It marks the second-largest sexual harassment settlement for the EEOC (the largest is $20.5 million, reached with Jackson Insurance Co), but labour union Communications Workers of America called the sum "woefully inadequate" last year.
While this is one lawsuit Activision Blizzard can now put behind them, there are still at least three more lawsuits that are currently public, including the one from the DFEH. Fahizah Alim, a spokesperson for the agency, said it "will continue to vigorously prosecute its action against Activision." The trial date is set for February 2023. Meanwhile, Microsoft's proposed takeover of Activision-Blizzard continues.