On March 29, a federal court judge in California agreed to sign off on a settlement between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Activision Blizzard. The video game publisher was sued by the EEOC for sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and retaliation.
Activision Blizzard was accused of promoting a “frat boy culture” within the company. According to the lawsuit, female employees at the company endured sexual harassment and were underpaid for their work.
One of the allegations brought up in the lawsuit involved a female employee who claims that two managers sexually harassed her. The same woman also claimed that coworkers of hers had been sent unwelcome nude photos from a senior manager. Another woman said that when she reported sexual harassment incidents to human resources, she was punished by the company and eventually fired.
Activision Blizzard agreed to settle with the EEOC for $18 million. The money will be placed in a fund to compensate claimants, several of whom reported losing their jobs due to the harassment. One claimant said that stress from her experience caused physical health issues that required her to have surgery.
If any money is left after the victims are paid, the remaining settlement funds will go towards nonprofit organizations that are focused on sexual harassment awareness and female advancement in technology.
The impact of workplace sexual harassment
Sexual harassment in the workplace can have a devastating emotional and financial impact on victims. Retaliation can cause a loss of income that is hard to recover from. For example, if a sexual harassment victim is fired, it can be difficult to find a new job without a good reference from their former employer.