Game Maker Activision Blizzard to pay $ 18 million in EEOC: NPR deal

This June 13, 2013 file photo shows the Activision Blizzard booth at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Activision Blizzard is one of the world’s foremost video game companies.

Jae C. Hong / AP


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Jae C. Hong / AP


This June 13, 2013 file photo shows the Activision Blizzard booth at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Activision Blizzard is one of the world’s foremost video game companies.

Jae C. Hong / AP

Well-known game maker Activision Blizzard has reached an $ 18 million deal with the US government over allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination against company employees.

Activision Blizzard, which is behind the hugely popular Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush game franchises, confirmed on Monday that the deal has been reached with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (EEOC). Earlier today, the agency filed a civil rights lawsuit against the company in federal court in California.

In a seven-page complaint, the EEOC accused Activision Blizzard of failing to respond to employee allegations of sexual harassment. The video game maker has also reportedly discriminated against pregnant employees. If workers who were harassed or discriminated against complained, the company would fire them, according to the EEOC.

As part of the deal with the employment watchdog, Activision Blizzard agreed to use the $ 18 million to compensate eligible employees who were harassed or discriminated against. The company has also agreed to strengthen its policies and programs to combat harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Activision Blizzard said it is also developing an initiative to create software tools and training programs to improve workplace policies and practices for other tech employers.

CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement Monday: “There is nowhere in our company for discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment of any kind, and I am grateful to the employees who courageously shared their I am sorry that anyone must have experienced inappropriate conduct, and I remain steadfast in my commitment to making Activision Blizzard one of the most inclusive, respected and respectful workplaces in the world. “

Kotick added, “We will continue to be vigilant in our commitment to eliminate harassment and discrimination in the workplace. We thank the EEOC for its constructive engagement as we strive to fulfill our commitments to eliminate inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

In court documents, however, Activision Blizzard denied any wrongdoing.

Activision Blizzard still faces more complaints from regulators

The EEOC said his trial followed a three-year investigation, which continued in similar inquiries by other state and federal regulators.

Allegations emerged months ago following inquiries by California regulators that Activision Blizzard had fostered a “frat boy” culture.

Women were paid less than men and assigned to lower-level jobs, according to complaints filed with California regulators. Female employees were also reportedly subjected to sexual harassment, including comments about women’s bodies, rape jokes and groping.

In late July, the California Civil Rights Agency sued the company, alleging gender discrimination and sexual harassment. Employees also staged a strike to protest Activision’s sexist culture.

The company is also facing complaints from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission over its handling of allegations of harassment and discrimination. Representatives for Activision Blizzard said last week they were complying with an SEC subpoena.

Three versions of Activision’s Call Of Duty games are on sale at Best Buy in Mountain View, Calif. On Wednesday, August 3, 2011.

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Three versions of Activision’s Call Of Duty games are on sale at Best Buy in Mountain View, Calif. On Wednesday, August 3, 2011.

Paul Sakuma / Associated press

The union, Communications Workers of America, filed a complaint earlier this month with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the gaming giant of violating federal labor laws. Among the complaints, executives threatened workers at the company to discuss wages, hours or working conditions.

Additionally, a shareholder lawsuit in August said the company had not disclosed to investors that it was under investigation in California and had workplace culture issues that could cause legal problems.

According to the New York Times, Activision Blizzard has since made two major hires, including a new human resources manager to show that he is trying to adapt to his culture.

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