Questions Raised by California’s Dropped Activision Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Questions Raised by California’s Dropped Activision Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The California state agency that accused video game maker Activision Blizzard of fostering a culture of sexual harassment against women on Friday withdrew the allegations as part of a $54 million settlement with the ‘business.

The California Department of Civil Rights found that “no court or independent investigation has substantiated allegations” regarding “systemic or widespread sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard.”

However, as part of the settlement, Activision agreed to pay up to $47 million to address accusations of pay disparity and discrimination. All employees who worked at the company between 2015 and 2020 will be offered some sort of monetary relief; they will be paid according to a formula. The company claims to have offered fair compensation.

This is a stunning reversal. In 2021, the state agency estimated that Activision’s liability was approximately 1 billion dollars, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s unclear how the state agency, accusing Activision of fostering a culture in which female employees were “subject to constant sexual harassment,” withdrew those allegations a few years later.

Was it zeal to enforce the law? It all started with a anonymous complaint in 2018. That letter was followed by a lawsuit from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2021 and shortly afterward by another from the California Department of Civil Rights, which was called then the Fair Employment Housing Department. The state agency objected to the settlement reached in the EEOC case. And then finally came a scathing story from the Wall Street Journal over accusations that the company failed to properly handle allegations of sexual misconduct.

Journalist Matt Taibbi wrote about this investigation: “Corporate regulation often begins with an investigation and ends with a devastating headline, but California has flipped the script. »

The rule leaves big questions unanswered. In a press release, the California Department of Civil Rights declared victory, announcing a $54 million payout and stating that “California remains deeply committed to promoting and respecting the civil rights of women in the United States.” work “. The fact that the agency found no wrongdoing does not mean that it found no wrongdoing.

But the affair required vast resources. The agency’s legal advisor was fired Last year. And all this comes about a year after Microsoft, which reportedly conducted its own due diligence, paid $69 billion to acquire the gaming company, whose shares took a hit after the allegations came to light.

Shipping companies suspend Red Sea voyages after missile attacks. Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd said they would stop their container ships from crossing the Red Sea after an upsurge in attacks since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. Maersk said one of its ships had been targeted by a missile.

The Fed signals that it will pivot on rates and the markets soar to approach records. The central bank has announced it will cut interest rates three times next year, suggesting a turning point has been reached in efforts to combat inflation. But critics say the Fed is sending mixed messages. John Williams, president of the New York Fedsaid yesterday that rate cuts were not yet discussed.

COP28 ends with an agreement to reduce fossil fuels. The United Nations climate summit in Dubai ended with a non-binding agreement calling on countries to abandon fossil fuels. The agreement follows weeks of rancorous debate, including over the event being hosted by a petrostate.

Epic Games’ legal victory against Google this week was a major antitrust blow for the search giant. The maker of Fortnite had accused Google of illegally limiting competition by using its Google Play store, and a San Francisco jury agreed. Google plans to appeal, but the legal battle is just one of several cases it will face next year.

Times technology reporter Nico Grant covers Google. I spoke with DealBook about how these deals could reshape Google’s business.

Apple mainly won a case similar to the one that Google just lost, which was also brought by Epic. What explains the different results?

Apple must be very happy not to have had to face a jury in San Francisco! And that was the significant difference between the cases. A judge has ruled in the Apple case.

It’s also worth noting that Apple has a closed system, in which it makes its own phones and software, so it doesn’t have the complicated relationships with other phone makers like Google – partnerships that the jury found them coercive and anti-competitive.

A judge will decide appeals in the Google Play case early next year. What potential changes might Google need to make?

Google could be ordered to open payment options in the Play Store, so users can subscribe to apps directly from the developer who created them. The company may also be forced to open the Android mobile operating system to a wider range of app stores. For example, Epic would like to offer an app store to Android users.

In these scenarios, the company’s Play Store business could be much less profitable because Google would collect fewer fees.

Should Apple adopt similar changes?

In Apple’s Epic case, a judge ruled that the company must allow users to pay app creators directly, rather than Apple processing the payments and taking a cut. But this has not been implemented as we wait to see if the Supreme Court will take up the case next year. It’s possible that both companies – Apple and Google – will be forced to offer their customers more options on how to pay for apps, although so far they have taken different paths to get there.

Google faces two more major antitrust cases in the United States – one linked to its search activity and the other to its dominance in digital advertising. Which of the three cases is likely to have the most significant impact on Google’s business?

The research case. It is Google’s largest company, responsible for more than half of its revenue last year. Closing arguments won’t take place until May, and the judge said he doesn’t yet have any idea how he will rule. But if Google is found to have violated search antitrust laws, the consequences could be very serious. The Justice Department could request that one of the platforms on which it distributes its search engine, such as its Chrome web browser or its Android operating system, be separated from the company.

Is the outcome of the Google Play case likely to affect decisions in other antitrust cases facing Google in the United States or the European Union?

One legal expert I spoke with said the cases are so different from each other that this result is not necessarily representative. But it shows that Google is not invincible. And it will certainly motivate anti-Google advocates on both sides of the Atlantic to redouble their efforts to replicate the result.

Netflix gave a glimpse of its black box this week, publishing visualization data for more than 18,000 titles for the first half of the year. The streaming giant described it as a “big step” towards transparency, and despite his omissions — including whether viewers watched five minutes or an hour of an hour-long show — the release reveals more than competitors like Disney have released.

Here are some of the most interesting statistics from this report, which covers 93.5 billion hours (or 10.7 million years) viewed:

  • Overall, Netflix Originals accounted for 55% of hours watched. The most watched series: “The Night Agent”, with 812 million hours viewed, followed by season 2 of “Ginny & Georgia” and the Korean series “The Glory”.

  • “Suits,” the USA Networks drama series that became a global binge-watching phenomenon this year, clocked 599 million hours over its nine seasons. (The show began streaming on Netflix over the summer, so the bulk of its views came after the period measured by the report.)

  • The most-watched productions didn’t have big stars, which can add significantly to costs. The highest-ranking featured vehicle was “FUBAR,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which placed 10th. “The Mother” by Jennifer Lopez then comes in 14th place.

  • That said, Netflix’s expensive partnerships with megaproducers are paying off. Shonda Rimes’ “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” placed fourth with 503 million hours watched.

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David B.Otero

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