Activision’s Great Deal

Activision Blizzard, Inc., the publisher of popular video games, allegedly tolerated a “frat boy” culture for years.

California’s Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit in 2021 alleging Activision executives knew about and failed to stop pervasive sexual harassment and then retaliated against women who complained.

But that lawsuit was effectively blitzed by an $18 million settlement approved this week by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer.

The settlement between Activision and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires Activision to pay $18 million and to hire a neutral equal opportunity consultant.

Activision, a Santa Monica company that publishes games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, earned about $8.8 billion dollars in 2021. It is ranked #373 on the Fortune 1000 Revenue Rank. The settlement amount, $18 million, is approximately 0.02 percent of the company’s annual earnings.

An $18 million settlement is a mere nuisance to the biggest producer of video games in the world. It is the proverbial slap on the wrist.

For example, a Los Angeles County jury assessed a $58.2 million verdict against entertainment executive Alki David of Hologram USA, Inc. for a sexual abuse of a female production assistant in 2019.

Judge Fischer said any claimant to the EEOC settlement must waive their right to pursue the DFEH lawsuit. So, it’s a bird in the hand kind of thing. Take the money now or take a chance (however small) of getting a higher amount in the future.

Continue reading “Activision’s Great Deal”

Biden Puts Glass Ceiling Back On Women’s Sports

In Connecticut, three female track and field athletes filed a Title IX complaint arguing they were prevented from top finishes and potential college scholarships by two transgender sprinters.

It is a scientific fact that a biological male who goes through puberty has a significant physical advantage in sports when compared to a female and “the muscular advantage enjoyed by transgender women is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed. ”

The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) agreed with the female runners. The OCR ruled in May the physical advantage enjoyed by the two transgender runners had allowed them to win a combined 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races since 2017. The Office threatened to halt funding for Connecticut school districts that permitted biologically male runners who identify as female to compete in girls sports.

In his first day in office, GOP Pres. Joe Biden effectively rescinded the OCR’s ruling.

With the stroke of a pen, GOP Pres. Joe Biden set female athletics back 40 years.

Continue reading “Biden Puts Glass Ceiling Back On Women’s Sports”

California’s Lonely Effort To Diversify Corporate Boardrooms

Can California lead the way toward greater diversity in corporate boardrooms or will its efforts further incentivize corporations to leave the state?

In recent years, California has adopted new laws to diversify the faces in publicly traded corporate boardrooms in that state.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed into law AB-979 which requires  corporations to appoint directors from “underrepresented” communities on their boards by the end of 2121.

In 2018, California required corporations located in the state to appoint at least one woman to their board.

California’s efforts reflect the dismal representation of women and minorities on corporate boards but they also raise questions. What is the best way to effect change? Does this goal require a uniform national approach, with incentives and rewards, so that no single state suffers adverse consequences? Might California have sought out other states as allies, to achieve strength in numbers?

Corporations already are leaving California, which is ranked by The Tax Foundation as 48th in terms of regulatory and business climate. The financial services firm, Charles Schwab, is the latest to announce it is moving its corporate headquarters from San Francisco to Texas, which not only has a lower standard of living but is one of the states that is least friendly to workers.

Continue reading “California’s Lonely Effort To Diversify Corporate Boardrooms”

Growing Movement to Ban Hair Discrimination

Perhaps no form of discrimination is more discouraging  to African Americans than discrimination based upon natural hair texture.

Many employers have rules governing workers’ appearance that prohibit styles commonly associated with Black people – twists, locs, braids, cornrows, Afros, Bantu knots or fades.  Of course, such policies also affect non-African Americans, including Native Americans who wear long hair braids and members of religious groups who wear headcoverings.

There is a growing movement afoot to make hair grooming policies actionable under state race discrimination laws.

Faegre Drinker, an international national law firm based in Washington, DC, recently reported that seven states have passed bills outlawing hair discrimination under state discrimination laws –  CA, NY, NJ, VA, CO, WA and MA.  And, eight more states are  considering bills to outlaw hair discrimination: IL, MA, MI, MO, OH, PA, RI and SC.

Health and Safety?

Typically, hair discrimination policies are very broad but contain a narrow provision relating to health and safety. Continue reading “Growing Movement to Ban Hair Discrimination”

CA Offers Free On-Line Training To Employers To Halt Sexual Harassment

The state of California has broken yet another glass ceiling by providing employers with a free online training resource about sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is offering a one-hour class for non-supervisory employees and an on-line class for supervisory employees is in the works. Continue reading “CA Offers Free On-Line Training To Employers To Halt Sexual Harassment”