Activision Blizzard succeeded on Tuesday in settling a controversial federal sexual harassment lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This paves the way for a $18 million relief fund for victims while also giving the game publisher some ammunition in defending itself against similar claims in the numerous ongoing cases it's still embroiled in, according to The Washington Post.
Activision Blizzard still faces a lawsuit from California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), as well as numerous other suits from former employees and shareholders. The DFEH objected to the EEOC settlement, which was first announced last September, on grounds the relief fund amount was far too low and that the company will be able to use the settlement terms to disqualify any claimants who join the settlement from participating in the DFEH lawsuit, which could go to trial as early as February 2023, on claims related to harassment, retaliation or pregnancy discrimination.
The settlement may also affect how much the DFEH can claim in damages, influencing how much it can pay out to victims while at the same time complicating the investigation's findings on many of central issues it brought the lawsuit to remedy. “The DFEH will continue to vigorously prosecute its action against Activision in California state court,” said Fahizah Alim, a DFEH spokesperson, in a statement last week, following a court filing that indicated U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer was close to approving the settlement.
“We are gratified that the federal court that reviewed our settlement with the EEOC is finding that it is ‘fair, reasonable and adequate and advances the public interest,'" said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick in a statement. "The Court’s approval is a vital step in our journey to ensuring that everyone at Activision Blizzard always feels safe, heard and empowered. We hope the court’s findings — including its view that many of the objections raised about our settlement were inaccurate and speculative — will dispel any confusion that may exist. With all of the terms of the settlement reviewed and approved, we can move forward."
As part of the settlement, Activision Blizzard does not have to admit any wrongdoing or liability for having subjected employees to "sexual harassment that was severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment," and for having "failed to take corrective and preventative measures" when notified.