Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay $18 million to settle a lawsuit by a women’s rights group that accused the video game developer of discrimination and retaliation, according to papers filed in San Diego on Friday.
The $19.1 million payout was part of a larger deal between Activision and the American Civil Liberties Union on Monday. The deal calls for the civil rights group to drop its gender pay-equity lawsuit against the company as part of the settlement.
The complaint, filed in December by the Women’s Law Project, claimed that Activision would never hire qualified women for competitive game-development jobs because the company failed to pay women’s work equally.
Activision sought to have the suit dismissed, but on Friday agreed to settle the case with the ACLU and Women’s Law Project. The settlement would serve as the minimum amount that a company has to pay to fix its workplace practices under state law, according to a memorandum of settlement attached to the documents filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego.
Women, as a group, make up about 13 percent of the video game industry’s workforce, according to the Allied Games Association, a trade group. Although women make up 46 percent of the computer science workforce, they only make up 19 percent of video game programmers and 8 percent of game artists, the association’s figures show.
Activision, which is the biggest game maker in the world, is based in Santa Monica, Calif. Its games include “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft.” Its annual revenue was more than $6 billion in the fiscal year that ended March 31.
“At Activision Blizzard, we are committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. In fact, in 2016 we publicly pledged to boost our diversity efforts and in June we kicked off our 20th anniversary celebration with the creation of a new Women in Entertainment Leadership Council,” said a company spokesman. “We are happy to resolve this issue so that we can focus on delivering our award-winning games and game-based service and entertainment experiences for our players.”
The settlement comes a few weeks after a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by an industry engineer alleging that Activision fired him after he complained about sexist and hostile behavior at work, including the firing of a co-worker’s dog. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco by Andrew Vance, who made the complaint under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act.
The administration of President Donald Trump announced in June that the Justice Department would seek to ban former NBC anchor Matt Lauer from working in the media after The New York Times and Variety reported allegations of sexual misconduct. The women, who had made their allegations years ago, described how Lauer had used his power as a prominent news anchor to get sexual favors.
Trump called the allegations “totally ridiculous” and a “total setup.”