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Activision Blizzard settles $54M workplace discrimination lawsuit with California

Microsoft's Activision Blizzard said this week it has settled a $54 million workplace discrimination lawsuit with the State of California.

Activision Blizzard, the video game company behind Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, among other games, has settled a $54 million workplace discrimination lawsuit with the State of California. 

The settlement resolves allegations that the company "discriminated against women at the company, including denying promotion opportunities and paying them less than men for doing substantially similar work," the California Civil Rights Department announced late Friday.

Per the agreement, which is subject to court approval, women who worked for Activision Blizzard between Oct. 12, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2020, may be eligible for compensation. About $45.75 million of the settlement amount has been set aside for such payouts, the state agency said.

Activision Blizzard also agreed to take steps to ensure "fair pay and promotion practices" at the company.

"We appreciate the importance of the issues addressed in this agreement and we are dedicated to fully implementing all the new obligations we have assumed as part of it," Activision Blizzard said Saturday.

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The company also noted that the California Civil Rights Department agreed to file an amended complaint that withdraws sexual harassment allegations.

California's civil rights agency sued Santa Monica-based Activision Blizzard in July 2021, alleging that female employees faced constant sexual harassment, that few women were named to leadership roles and that when they were, they earned less salary, incentive pay and total compensation than male peers.

The allegations helped drag down Activision's stock price in 2021, paving the way for Microsoft's eventual takeover bid in January 2022. The software giant, which owns the Xbox gaming system, closed its $69 billion deal to buy Activision in October after fending off global opposition from antitrust regulators and rivals.

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The settlement agreement declares that "no court or any independent investigation has substantiated any allegations" of systemic or widespread sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard, nor claims that the company's board of directors and CEO acted improperly or ignored or tolerated a culture of harassment, retaliation or discrimination.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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