Activision Blizzard has agreed to set aside $18m for employees who experienced harassment and discrimination at the company.
The fund's creation is part of a settlement between Activision Blizzard and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which we heard last week was one of a number of organisations currently investigating the company.
Claimants who have experienced "sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and/or related retaliation or constructive discharge" will now be able to apply to the EEOC for relief. The commission will then determine whether a claimant is successful and how much they will be awarded.
Any leftover money from the $18m pool will then be donated by the EEOC to charities of its choosing, with a focus on those tackling diversity and equality issues in the workplace, awareness of harassment, and promoting women in the games industry.
Activision Blizzard has also agreed to improve software and training to improve workplace practices, hire an equal employment oppurtunity coordinator and be audited by a consultant connected with the EEOC to ensure the company remains free of discriminatory practices.
While we only heard of the EEOC investigation last week, court documents now show the commission was investigating Activision Blizzard from as early as September 2018 (thanks, The Verge). The EEOC presented its findings in June this year, and has since held "extensive conciliation discussions" with the company.
Today's $18m payout total has raised eyebrows among those comparing it to the billions raked in every year by the publisher, which runs franchises such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
Last year, Activision Blizzard reported revenues of $8.1bn. In June, shareholders agreed a new $155m pay packet for boss Bobby Kotick.
But this is far from the end the matter. Last week's update from Activision Blizzard revealed the company was also being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). There's also the lawsuit filed by Activision Blizzard employees, which accuses the company of using "coercive tactics" to prevent organisational efforts to improve working conditions. Finally, there's the original legal action by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleges sexual harassment, discrimination, and a "frat boy" work culture at Blizzard.
"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," Kotick said today in a statement issued alongside news of the EEOC settlement. "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. We thank the EEOC for its constructive engagement as we work to fulfill our commitments to eradicate inappropriate conduct in the workplace."
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