The company, which was accused of tolerating sexual harassment against female employees, offered the settlement the same day the federal E.E.O.C. sued it.
Activision Blizzard has reached an $18 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission following allegations that the popular video game publisher tolerated harassment and discrimination against female employees.
According to National Public Radio, Activision Blizzard—the creator of popular game franchises like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush—confirmed the deal on Monday.
The settlement, says N.P.R., was offered shortly after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lodged a federal civil rights lawsuit against the company.
The lawsuit came after the E.E.O.C. concluded a three-year investigation, and after new allegations surfaced accusing Activision Blizzard of fostering a “frat boy” culture.
Women at Activision Blizzard were reportedly paid less than men, assigned to worse jobs, and subjected to near-continuous sexual harassment, including physical groping, unpleasant comments, and rape-related jokes.
In its seven-page complaint, the agency accused Activision Blizzard of repeatedly failing to address female employees’ claims of sexual harassment. It also said that Activision Blizzard’s management had discriminated or retaliated against pregnant workers.
When employees tried to report harassment or discrimination, the E.E.O.C. said, Activision Blizzard terminated them.
Alongside paying $18 million to compensate eligible employees, Activision Blizzard also pledged to strengthen its workplace anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies.
The company said that it is currently developing a program to create training software and tools to improve workplace policies and practices; this technology will be shared with other employers.
“There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind, and I am grateful to the employees who bravely shared their experiences,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a Monday statement. “I am sorry that anyone had to experience inappropriate conduct, and I remain unwavering in my commitment to make Activision Blizzard one of the world’s most inclusive, respected, and respectful workplaces.”
“We will continue to be vigilant in our commitment to the elimination of harassment and discrimination in the workplace,” Kotick added. “We thank the EEOC for its constructive engagement as we work to fulfill our commitments to eradicate inappropriate conduct in the workplace.”
However, Activision Blizzard’s settlement allowed the company to deny wrongdoing; it said that it settled to avoid “the expense, distraction and possible litigation associated with such a dispute.”
The New York Times notes that, while Activision Blizzard has settled with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, California’s state employment agency is still pursuing a lawsuit against the company.