The high-profile gaming company says it will create a 18 million fund to compensate victims of harassment or discrimination in its workplace.
Activation Blizzard, a video game maker facing growing legal issues over allegations of a toxic workplace culture, has reached an agreement with U.S. workplace discrimination regulators.
One of the world’s most high-profile gaming companies has reached an agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to court documents filed Monday. The agency filed the lawsuit in federal court in California the previous day, the result of nearly three years of investigation.
The agency said activation failed to take effective action after employees complained of sexual harassment, it discriminated against pregnant workers and retaliated against employees who spoke out against them, including dismissing them.
Activision says it will create a 18 million fund to compensate victims of harassment or discrimination. The rest of the money will go to charities for women in the video game industry or other gender-equality arrangements. The agency said it would “upgrade” its policy and training on harassment and discrimination and hire an independent consultant to comply with EEOC terms. The agreement is subject to court approval and will remain in effect for three years.
Santa Monica, the maker of California-based Activation, Candy Crush, Call of Duty, Overwatch and World Craft, has seen its stock fall over the past few months as employees complained about its labor practices and government officials took action.
In July, a California civil rights organization sued the company. Employees have spoken out about harassment and discrimination, signed a petition criticizing the company for a defensive response to the lawsuit, and walked out. One shareholder sued, saying the activation had confused investors about the severity of its labor problems and the associated legal risks. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the disclosure of activism to investors.
Activision says it is cooperating with various regulators and working to resolve workplace complaints. It recently “refreshed” its human resources department and hired a new “Chief People Officer” from Disney.
“There is no room for discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment anywhere in our company, and I am grateful to the employees who have bravely shared their experiences,” Bobby Kotik, CEO of Activation Blizzard, said in a company statement on Monday. He said he is dedicated to making the company an “inclusive, respectful and dignified” workplace.
Activation stocks have fallen nearly 20 percent since the end of June. Shares rose 2 percent to .6 76.67 in trading on Tuesday afternoon.