Activision to pay $50 million to settle workplace discrimination lawsuit

(Reuters) -Activision Blizzard will pay roughly $50 million to settle a 2021 lawsuit by a California regulator that alleged the videogame maker discriminated against women employees, including denying them promotion opportunities and underpaying them.

California’s Civil Rights Department (CRD) had sued the “Call of Duty” maker after two years of investigation over allegations that it routinely underpaid and failed to promote female employees and condoned sexual harassment.

The CRD will withdraw the allegations of systemic sexual harassment, according to the settlement agreement, seen by Reuters. The remaining allegations resolved by the agreement included that Activision discriminated against women, including by denying promotion opportunities and paying them less than men for doing substantially similar work, the CRD said in a statement on Friday.

Activision will take additional steps to ensure fair pay and promotion practices and provide monetary relief to women who were employees or contract workers in California between Oct. 12, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2020, as part of the agreement, which is subject to court approval, the CRD statement said.

“In the settlement agreement, the CRD expressly acknowledged that ‘no court or independent investigation has substantiated any allegations that there has been systemic or widespread sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard’,” the videogame maker said in a statement on Friday.

The company also said that no investigation substantiated that its board or chief executive acted improperly in handling instances of workplace misconduct.

Activision, which was bought in October by Microsoft for nearly $69 billion, agreed in 2021 to pay up to $18 million to settle similar claims made by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

(Reporting by Arsheeya Bajwa in Bengaluru and Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh, Grant McCool, Leslie Adler and William Mallard)