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Workers union objects to Activision Blizzard settlement as legal maelstrom rages on
The CWA described recent attempts to settle a harassment lawsuit as a "slap in the face."
October 13, 2021
3 Min Read
The Communication Workers of America (CWA) union has objected to Activision Blizzard's attempts to settle a harassment lawsuit with the the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) by creating an $18 million compensation fund.
The EEOC sued the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publisher "to correct unlawful employment practices based on sex and to provide appropriate relief to a class of individuals who were adversely affected by such practices."
To settle the matter, Activision Blizzard said it would establish an $18 million fund "to compensate and make amends" to eligible claimants. The CWA, however, has described the proposal as a "slap in the face to workers" who "dealt with toxic working conditions for years."
In an objection filed on October 12 (highlighted by Wowhead), the CWA claimed there are a "number of serious deficiencies" with the proposed settlement (consent decree), including a lack of employee consultation, references to waivers, concerns over non-admissions clauses, and the size of the compensation fund.
"The settlement amount of 18 million dollars seems woefully inadequate. This would provide the maximum settlement for only 60 workers," said the CWA. "If any significant number of workers received the maximum under federal law, there would be little available for many other workers adversely affected. We are concerned about how the EEOC got to that number and how it believes that number will be fairly distributed. Please explain."
The CWA has listed 31 concerns in total, all of which are outlined in painstaking detail, and has requested a fairness hearing to address each point. Notably, the union also called out the EEOC for seemingly attempting to "preempt" the lawsuit brought against Activision Blizzard by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) under California law.
"California law provides for greater remedies, and the DFEH seems much more willing to aggressively and effectively pursue litigation," continues the objection. "Please explain why this Consent Decree was suddenly entered into shortly after the DFEH’s complaint was filed and has become active. Do you plan to seek input from the DFEH? Why was this not coordinated with the DFEH?"
The DFEH -- which surfaced a number of harassment and misconduct allegations against Activision Blizzard -- had also objected to the proposed settlement, claiming it would lead to the "effective destruction" of evidence critical to its own case.
As reported by PCGamer earlier this week, the EEOC then responded in kind, opposing the DFEH appeal and surfacing a damaging conflict of interest by pointing out the DFEH's case was being led by two lawyers who previously investigated Activision Blizzard for the EEOC.
Given those allegations would constitute a breach of the California Rule of Professional Conduct, the EEOC is arguing that the DFEH's objection be thrown out. One attorney has even suggested the revelation could jeopardise the DFEH's entire lawsuit against Activision Blizzard.
In short then, the legal maelstrom surrounding Activision Blizzard is showing no signs of abating, and it could be some time before the multitude of lawsuits, objections, and investigations engulfing the publisher are resolved.
About the Author(s)
News Editor, GameDeveloper.com
Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.
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