The US government’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are investigating Activision Blizzard over the company’s handling of sexual misconduct and harassment allegations. This comes just two months after the Call Of Duty publishers were sued by a State department for alleged workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Now, The SEC have subpoenaed a number of high-level executives, reportedly including CEO Bobby Kotick, and have requested internal documents relating to the allegations.
According to The Wall Street Journal (watch out for the paywall), the SEC have launched a “wide-ranging” investigation into Activision Blizzard. They allegedly want to see records of Kotick’s communications with other execs about the allegations, the personnel files of six former employees, separation agreements from staff who left this year, and notes from board meetings dating back to 2019.
The Wall Street Journal says that the SEC are investigating whether the allegations should’ve been disclosed to investors before the initial lawsuit was made public. It’s clear some investors believe they should’ve found out sooner, because several of them sued Activision Blizzard last month, claiming the publisher misled them about the severity of the investigation.
In a new statement released today, Activision Blizzard say they’re cooperating with a number of employment regulators who’re performing investigations, including the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the SEC. They confirmed that the SEC issued a subpoena “to the Company and several current and former employees and executives regarding disclosures on employment matters and related issues”, though didn’t confirm exactly who is involved.
“While we continue to work in good faith with regulators to address and resolve past workplace issues, we also continue to move ahead with our own initiatives to ensure that we are the very best place to work,” Kotick says. “We remain committed to addressing all workplace issues in a forthright and prompt manner.”
Activision Blizzard are under increasing pressure from a number of different parties since they were first sued, then. Just last week, a group of employees teamed up with a union to file charges of unfair labour practices, accusing the company of “intimidation and union busting”.
The original lawsuit against the company was also expanded last month, after California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) accused Activision Blizzard of shredding documents pertaining to their ongoing investigation. Since the suit was made public in July, a number high-level staff have left too, including Blizzard president J.Allen Brack and a senior HR exec. The director of Diablo 4 has reportedly been let go as well.