Activision Blizzard reach sexual harassment settlement ahead of Microsoft buyout vote

Kareem Anderson

Ahead of its board vote to approve or disapprove of a Microsoft buyout, Activision Blizzard is cleaning house with a recent sexual harassment settlement of $18 million.

According to The Washington Post, “A judge approved an $18 million settlement between Activision Blizzard and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Tuesday that resolves the federal sexual harassment lawsuit faced by the video game publisher. The company still faces multiple suits from shareholders, former employees and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).”

The $18 million Activision Blizzard settlement spearheaded by the EEOC comes as the second largest sexual harassment settlement ever negotiated by the division, to-date, according to the Washington Post.

While anyone who worked at Activision Blizzard between September 1, 2016 until now can submit a sexual harassment or pregnancy discrimination claim to opt-into the EEOC settlement, they must do so knowing they will be waiving their rights to the results of other lawsuits against the company such as the California state agency suit.

The California state agency suit is a bit more encompassing as it deals with claims of retaliation, pay inequity as well as harassment and discrimination.

CEO Bobby Kotick released a statement following the announcement that reads in part, “our goal is to become a model for the industry, as we will continue to focus on eliminating harassment and discrimination from our workplace. The court’s approval of this settlement is an important step in ensuring that our employees have mechanisms for recourse if they experienced any form of harassment or retaliation.”

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While some see the $18 million as woefully inadequate to address over 10,000 employees, there are other staples that come along with the settlement that include mental health counseling services, new personnel evaluation processes, mandatory sexual harassment training and an appointed EEOC intermediary.

Activision Blizzard still has a few other pending lawsuits and an active employee-led unionization effort to address, but it seems like one less sexual harassment lawsuit that will be on the books during their vote to allow a Microsoft buyout of the company.