The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is appealing a judge’s ruling that barred him from intervening in Activision Blizzard’s $ 18 million settlement to end a lawsuit for sex discrimination last year.
Activision continues to come under scrutiny after California’s DFEH claimed the gaming giant has fostered a “frat boy” work culture. In a lawsuit filed in July 2021, the ministry claimed that the toxic workplace led to gender discrimination, including harassment against female employees.
The case parallels other investigations and litigation. The United States National Labor Relations Board is investigating a complaint filed by the Communications Workers of America Union, which accused the game maker of intimidating staff and unlawfully obstructing their attempts to form a union. The Securities Exchange Commission is also investigating whether the company did not report the allegations of gender discrimination and harassment to investors before they were released publicly, which led to a drop in stock prices.
With all these legal challenges pending, Activision was probably happy to settle a case filed years ago by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for the financial equivalent of three days of annual profits. , promising to pay $ 18 million in settlement fees. The money would be used to compensate all current and former workers since 2016 and victims of sexual harassment. In return, Activision said it would review its labor policies and provide training on gender discrimination to managers and human resources staff.
Wait a minute
But California’s DFEH has claimed that if the settlement goes ahead, this consent decree between Activision and the EEOC could potentially derail its own lawsuit. A judge rejected DFEH’s request [PDF], and said the agency’s concerns were speculative. The DFEH filed an appeal on Friday to overturn this decision. The ministry finally wants to give its opinion on the settlement and requests a fairness hearing.
“The interests claimed by DFEH are a general interest in defending the rights of Californian citizens and an interest in protecting DFEH’s ability to pursue its own parallel court case based on California law,” noted Judge Dale Fischer.
“Specifically, DFEH (…) argues that the consent decree would release claims under California state law and allow, or even potentially require, defendants to destroy evidence relevant to the case before the DFEH State Court. “
In the midst of this, the EEOC and Activision this month called for a ‘closed door review’ [PDF] in which they can share confidential information privately with a judge on a proposal to change the decree constant to the regulations. The register asked Activision for comment.
Senior executives at the games company have resigned amid the ongoing unrest and public relations fallout. Blizzard Chief Allen Brack and Chief Human Resources Officer Jesse Meschuk called the party, as did Activision Chief Legal Officer Claire Hart and Jen Oneal after just three months in her role as Blizzard’s co-lead.
Bobby Kotick, however, was able to retain his position as CEO of Activision Blizzard, which he has held for more than 30 years. The multimillionaire has agreed to cut his salary and take no bonuses or additional equity, until his company meets its goals of eradicating internal discrimination and harassment. ®