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Video Game Company’s $18 Million Settlement With EEOC Sheds Light On Consequences Of Gender Discrimination In The Workplace

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Now that independent contractor gigs are becoming more common while full-time employment positions are getting harder to find for many, the stress that comes with life in the gig economy is a growing problem. Lots of gig workers recharge between gigs by playing video games, and one of the biggest makers of those video games in Activision Blizzard.

From the action-packed Call of Duty and nerdy World of Warcraft to the innocent fun of Candy Crush, Activision Blizzard has something for every type of gamer. At the same time, two of the most difficult places for women to catch a break in the world are the workplace and the video game subculture. In the midst of the pandemic, those two issues converged when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard last fall.

The suit came in response to complaints filed by women who had worked for the company as employees and independent contractors — complaints alleging sexual harassment and wrongful termination. And the suit found its final resolution on March 29, when a U.S. District Judge approved a settlement agreed upon by both sides just hours after the EEOC’s suit was originally filed.

If you have experienced gender discrimination or sexual harassment in the video game industry or any other line of work, contact the Los Angeles employment discrimination and harassment lawyers at Obagi Law Group, P.C.

Independent Contractors Have the Right to a Harassment-Free Workplace, Too

Three years ago, the EEOC began an investigation into Activision Blizzard after receiving complaints from women describing gender discrimination that they claimed to have experienced while they were working for the company. In its ensuing investigation, the EEOC found evidence of the following actions, all of which are violations of employment laws:

  • Women were routinely paid less than men and assigned to jobs with less authority, and the company rarely offered them pay raises or promotions.
  • Sexual harassment was pervasive; male employees frequently made offensive comments about women’s bodies and joked about sexual assault. Some women reported unwanted touching by male co-workers. NPR and other news sources described the work environment at Activision Blizzard as a “frat boy” culture.
  • The company fired employees in retaliation for the employees’ complaints about pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment.

The EEOC initially filed its complaint against Activision Blizzard on behalf of women who had worked for the company as full-time employees. It later added plaintiffs who had worked for Activision Blizzard as independent contractors.

In September 2021, on the same day that the EEOC filed suit, Activision Blizzard agreed to pay a settlement of $18 million to compensate the former employees and independent contractors who experienced wrongful termination in retaliation for complaints about gender discrimination and sexual harassment, or who otherwise suffered emotional and financial hardship because of the discrimination they experienced at the company. As part of the settlement, Activision Blizzard also agreed to implement stronger policies to prevent discrimination and harassment of its employees and independent contractors.

Speak With a Los Angeles Employment Discrimination Lawyer

An employment discrimination and harassment lawyer can help you bring a complaint to the EEOC about harassment, retaliation, and discrimination, based on gender or another protected characteristic, in your workplace. Contact Obagi Law Group, P.C. in Los Angeles, California to discuss your situation or call 424-284-2401.

Resource:

storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.cacd.832570/gov.uscourts.cacd.832570.1.0.pdf

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