Bulletins

Activision Blizzard settles federal sexual harassment suit, but its legal woes are just beginning

California's state case against the game publisher continues, though the company's $18 million settlement will complicate future cases.

Activision Blizzard workers protest outside the entrance
Activision Blizzard is being sued for widespread sexism, harassment and discrimination.
Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

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.

Latest Bulletins

Gene Levoff, Apple's former director of Corporate Law, pleaded guilty to insider trading, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Keep Reading Show less

New York state environmental regulators have declined to extend a key permit to a controversial cryptocurrency mining operation in the state's Finger Lakes region.

Keep Reading Show less

FTX is reportedly close to gobbling up BlockFi for about $25 million, though BlockFi's CEO has dismissed the talk as "market rumors."

Keep Reading Show less

The CFPB said it has terminated a sandbox deal that gave earned wage access provider PayActiv “temporary safe harbor from liability” under key lending regulations.

The CFPB granted PayActiv “special regulatory treatment” in December 2020 to offer “earned wage access” products that would allow employees to obtain wages they already earned before payday.

PayActiv gets paid back through a payroll deduction from the employee’s next paycheck. The company makes money through fees.

The CFPB said it had informed PayActiv early this month that it was “considering terminating the approval order in light of certain public statements the company made wrongly suggesting a CFPB endorsement of its products.”

The company requested that the CFPB end the sandbox order after notifying the agency that it planned to modify its product fee model, the CFPB said.

The move underlined the CFPB’s increasingly critical view of sandbox deals that the agency said “proved to be ineffective.”

Safwan Shah, PayActiv’s founder and CEO, is credited with coining the term "earned wage access," which has been criticized by consumer advocates as being potentially predatory, especially when it comes to workers who don’t make much money.

Shah has argued that it benefits ordinary workers, citing a dieting principle: "The less you are paid, the more frequently you should be paid," he told Protocol in a 2021 interview. "If you're going to eat 500 calories, don't eat them in one sitting. Spread them throughout the day."

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of PayActiv's name. This story was updated June 30, 2022.

Samsung announced Wednesday that it has taken a significant step toward rolling out a next-generation manufacturing technology that has the potential to reshuffle the chip industry.

Keep Reading Show less

Amazon has censored search results related to LGBTQ+ products in the United Arab Emirates after being pressured by the government.

Keep Reading Show less

Grayscale is suing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after the regulator denied the company's bid to convert its bitcoin trust into an exchange-traded fund.

Keep Reading Show less

App developers in South Korea can now use third-party payment systems, Apple announced in a blog post Thursday.

Keep Reading Show less

An employee working for OpenSea's email delivery vendor misused their customer data access to download and share email addresses with an "unauthorized external party," the NFT marketplace wrote in a company blog post Wednesday. The employee worked for Customer.io.

Keep Reading Show less

Javier Soltero is leaving Google Workspace, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian announced Wednesday in an email to staff viewed by Protocol. Soltero will leave his role effective July 15.

Keep Reading Show less

San Francisco-based game development tools provider Unity is laying off hundreds of employees, according to a report from Kotaku.

Keep Reading Show less

Niantic is reportedly cutting between 85 and 90 staff members, or 8% of its workforce.

Keep Reading Show less

Crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital has reportedly received a court order to liquidate after creditors sued the company over unpaid debts.

Keep Reading Show less

Just months after committing to spend $925 million on carbon dioxide removal, a collection of major tech companies has announced its first purchases. The group, operating under the banner of Frontier, announced it had purchased nearly 2,000 tons of CDR services from five companies. It's a small ripple in the CDR pond, but one Frontier hopes will turn into a wave to bring down the costs of removing carbon.

Keep Reading Show less

The Federal Trade Commission has sued Walmart, alleging the retail giant "turned a blind eye" to fraud worth hundreds of millions on its money transfer services.

Keep Reading Show less

Eric Schmidt described his first five years at Google as "pure, naive techno-optimism," in that the company believed that applying American values like free speech is good for the world. But Google hit a brick wall when it bought YouTube.

Keep Reading Show less

The Biden administration's hot electric vehicle summer continues to zip along. On Tuesday, the White House announced $700 million in commitments for EV charging from private companies. The cash will up U.S. charging manufacturing capacity to 250,000 chargers a year and increase the number of chargers out in the wild. Not too bad!

Keep Reading Show less

Meta said it's working to correct enforcement errors that led to the removal of Facebook posts related to abortion pills and suspensions of user accounts behind the posts. The clarification came after Motherboard discovered that Facebook was instantly removing posts that said "abortion pills can be mailed," which the FDA legalized in 2021.

"Content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, gift, request or donate pharmaceuticals is not allowed. Content that discusses the affordability and accessibility of prescription medication is allowed," Meta spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted in response to the story. "We've discovered some instances of incorrect enforcement and are correcting these."

Keep Reading Show less

Option Impact, a benchmark compensation product from Advanced-HR, has a new owner.

Keep Reading Show less

FTX is reportedly exploring the possibility of buying Robinhood. The crypto exchange led by CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is looking into whether it could acquire the online brokerage, according to a Bloomberg report that cited unnamed sources.

Keep Reading Show less

Backstage Capital, which invests in underrepresented founders, has cut all of its operational staff after it ran into fundraising challenges, according to founder Arlan Hamilton.

Keep Reading Show less

Crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital has defaulted on a loan of cryptocurrencies worth $666 million from Voyager Digital, the broker said Monday.

Keep Reading Show less

Goldman Sachs has joined efforts to assist the ailing crypto lending company Celsius, in what would be the biggest effort yet by a traditional financial institution to jump in amid a broad crypto crash. Several large crypto hedge funds, lending companies and brokerages have sought funding or credit amid a liquidity crunch in recent days.

Keep Reading Show less

Los Angeles could become the first major city in the country to ban the construction of new gas stations because of the climate crisis.

Keep Reading Show less

Six of Sony's internal game development studios have issued public messages of support for abortion rights and condemnations of the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday. It's a notable shift for PlayStation, after Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan told staff in May to "respect differences of opinion" on reproductive rights following POLITICO's disclosure of details from a leaked draft opinion in early May.

Keep Reading Show less
Bulletins