California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed an objection to a recent settlement between Activision Blizzard and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming it would cause "irreparable harm" to its ongoing legal proceedings.
The settlement, announced in September, saw Activision Blizzard agreeing to set aside $18m USD for affected employees after an EEOC investigation stemming back to 2018 found staff at the video game publisher had been sexually harassed, discriminated against for becoming pregnant, and had suffered retaliation by the company after complaining about the behaviour.
The EEOC investigation, although long in the works, only hit headlines after a California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit sent shockwaves across the industry in July, alleging sexual harassment, discrimination, and a "frat boy" work culture at Activision.
The fallout from the DFEH's lawsuit was immediate and significant - employee walkouts, the departure of Blizzard president J. Allen Brack and other high-profile staff, further legal action, and even a separate investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission followed - but now the DFEH has formally filed objections to the recent EEOC settlement, arguing the deal would undermine its ongoing claims against Activision Blizzard.
California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which previously objected to Riot's "rushed" settlement with female workers plans to object to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's settlement proposal with Activision.— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) October 7, 2021
Says it could harm DFEH's case.
New filings: pic.twitter.com/tHBQ8aFj5O
In documents shared by Axios' Stephen Totilo, the DFEH says the EEOC settlement would cause "irreparable harm" to its own lawsuit if approved by the court, given that its terms would, among other things, require employees to release Activision Blizzard from claims under California state law.
"DFEH's pending enforcement action against Defendants will be harmed by uninformed waivers that the proposed decree makes conditional for victims to obtain relief," the Department of Fair Employment and Housing writes in its objection filing. "The proposed consent decree also contains provisions sanctioning the effective destruction and/or tampering of evidence critical to the DFEH's case, such as personnel files and other documents referencing sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination."
In response to the DFEH's latest action, Activision Blizzard told GamesIndustry.biz, "We are committed to making Activision Blizzard the most welcoming, inclusive, and safe workplace possible. Our agreement with the EEOC reflects that commitment to significant improvements and transparency, as well as making immediate compensation available to eligible employees who choose to participate. Activision Blizzard is ensuring a workplace free from discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind."