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Activision Blizzard terminates forced arbitration in exchange for a massive pay cut for its CEO



Employees received a letter from Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, on Thursday, in which he requested that the company's board reduce his compensation to the "minimum amount permitted by California law" until the gaming company resolved its issues with gender discrimination and harassment.


If the board gives its approval, Kotick will receive $62,500, which represents a significant reduction from the $155 million compensation package approved by shareholders in June.


The executive continued, "I am requesting that I do not receive any bonuses or equity during this time."


The announcement was part of a broader set of changes announced by Kotick, who has served as Activision's CEO since 1991, which included the company's merger with Blizzard in 2008. Kotick has served as the company's CEO since 1991. The elimination of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and discrimination claims, a 50 percent increase in the percentage of women and non-binary employees, and the implementation of a "zero tolerance harassment policy" are among the changes.


Activision Blizzard, which owns massively popular games such as "Call of Duty," "World of Warcraft," and "Candy Crush," has been in turmoil for months, with allegations of sexual harassment and pay disparity between men and women swirling around the company, according to Kotick's letter.


The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit in July against a company that it claimed had a "frat boy" work culture in which women were subjected to constant harassment and discrimination. In a statement to CNN at the time, the company stated that it had addressed previous misconduct and decried the lawsuit as "inaccurate" and "distorted.")


A walkout by hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees at the company's Irvine, California, headquarters followed the filing of the lawsuit and the company's initial response, which sparked outrage among the company's workforce. Afterwards, Kotick acknowledged that the company's initial response had been "tone deaf."


Additionally, the company is the subject of a complaint filed earlier this month by the National Labor Relations Board, which accuses the company of unfair labor practices. Additionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting an investigation into the company, with which the company has stated it is cooperating. In the meantime, all of those actions are still pending, and Activision Blizzard stated that it "remains committed to constructive engagement with regulators."


The company agreed to pay $18 million to settle a separate lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that it subjected female employees to sexual harassment, retaliated against them for reporting harassment, and underpaid female employees. The settlement was reached a month ago. Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claimed that the company "discriminated against pregnant employees."


Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stated in a statement released in conjunction with the announcement of the EEOC settlement that he remained "unwavering in my commitment to making Activision Blizzard one of the most inclusive, respected, and respectful workplaces on the planet."

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