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Activision Blizzard faces SEC investigation following misconduct allegations

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Activision Blizzard over the company's handling of workplace misconduct complaints.

Alissa McAloon, Publisher

September 20, 2021

2 Min Read

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Activision Blizzard over the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft company's handling of workplace misconduct reports and pay disparity complaints over the past several years.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the SEC has so far subpoenaed Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, multiple executives, and both current and former employees as it seeks to investigate its handling of harassment and discrimination complaints.

Specifically, documents and comments received by The Wall Street Journal say that the SEC is concerned with board meeting minutes, personnel files, and separation agreements from 2019 to now. The request for personnel files concerns six specific former members of Activision Blizzard's staff. According to the SEC, Activision Blizzard is cooperating with the investigation.

This latest inquiry into the inner workings of Activision Blizzard follows only months after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard following two years of investigations into what it describes a "frat boy" company culture. In a lawsuit filed this July, the DFEH accuses Activision Blizzard of allowing sexual misconduct and sex-based discrimination to take hold within the company and accuses executives like now-former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack of failing to properly act on reports of misconduct. 

That yet-ongoing lawsuit has been followed by conflicting statements from company leadership, protests from the developers employed at the studio, and the exit of multiple members of the leadership team. Still, groups like the employee group ABetterABK say that the company has ignored calls for cultural reform within Activision Blizzard, and has yet to make progress toward the group's demands. Those demanded changes include an end to mandatory arbitration clauses, the creation of a company-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce, and published data on compensation to ensure employees are paid fairly.

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