TALI ARBEL, AP technology writer
Activision Blizzard, the video game maker facing growing legal troubles over allegations of toxic workplace culture, has reached an agreement with US regulators on discrimination in the workplace.
The company, one of the most prestigious gambling companies in the world, reached an agreement with the U.S. Equal Opportunities Commission to settle claims, according to court documents filed Monday. The agency filed a lawsuit in federal court in California earlier this day, the culmination of nearly three years of investigation.
The agency said Activision did not take effective action after employees complained about sexual harassment, discriminated against pregnant employees and defended themselves against employees who spoke up, including their dismissal.
Activision said it will create a $ 18 million fund to compensate people who have been harassed or discriminated against. The rest of the money would go to charities for women in the video game industry or other gender equality initiatives. It will also “upgrade” its harassment and discrimination policy and training and hire an independent advisor to oversee compliance with the EEOC’s terms and conditions. The agreement requires judicial approval and is valid for three years.
Activision, based in Santa Monica, Calif., Maker of Candy Crush, Call of Duty, Overwatch and World of Warcraft, has been battered in recent months as employees complained about its work practices and government officials took action.
The California Civil Rights Agency sued the company in July. Employees spoke up on harassment and discrimination, signed petitions criticizing the company for its defensive response to the lawsuit, and staged a strike. A shareholder has filed a lawsuit claiming Activision misled investors about the severity of its labor problems and the legal risks involved. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Activision’s disclosures to investors.
The Californian company has announced that it will partner with various regulators and work to resolve workplace complaints. It recently “refreshed” its human resources department and hired a new Disney Chief People Officer.
“There is nowhere in our company for discrimination, harassment or inequality of any kind, and I am grateful to the employees who have bravely shared their experiences,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, in a company statement on Monday. He said he is committed to making the company an “inclusive, respected and respectful” place to work.
Since the end of June the share has fallen by around 20%. The shares rose 2% to $ 76.67 in Tuesday afternoon trading.