What not to do in a sexual harassment lawsuit
In September 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the gaming company Activision Blizzard. The lawsuit alleged violations of sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and retaliation. Furthermore, it was a class action lawsuit, naming 10 John Does as defendants.
Cnet.com reported that the company reached an $18 million settlement with the EEOC to compensate and make amends to the plaintiffs. Activision Blizzard is a multi-billion dollar company and one of the world’s largest gaming companies.
This was not the only lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard, but is the most recent of a number of lawsuits. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against the company in July, based on allegations of discrimination and harassment. More than 2,000 employees signed an open letter for the company to take action in support of the harassment victims. In July, employees staged a walkout protest that demanded accountability from the company. Other complaints also existed—one to the National Labor Relations Board and another complaint that resulted in an SEC investigation for sexual misconduct.
How the EEOC Deals with Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Claims
In a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), companies typically have the opportunity to settle out of court. Willingness to correct sexual harassment in the workplace and undergo conciliation is an early step in dealing with the EEOC.
The EEOC first conducts an investigation to determine whether the claim has merit. If the EEOC does not find reasonable evidence, it will issue a Dismissal and Notice of Rights notice. However, the claimant still has the right to file a case in federal court.
If the EEOC determines that reasonable cause exists to believe discrimination has occurred, it issues a Letter of Determination. At this point, parties can participate in an informal conciliation process to resolve the claim.
When conciliation does not resolve the issue, the EEOC can file a lawsuit on behalf of the claimant in federal court. Or, if the EEOC decides not to pursue litigation, the claimant can proceed by filing a lawsuit in federal court. However, they must do so within 90 days.
It is wise to have experienced counsel to help deal with complaints before they escalate to the level of what occurred with Activision Blizzard.