Update 09/21/2021: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also been investigating Activision Blizzard, with the games publisher reportedly discussing a settlement that could cost it millions of dollars.
Reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reportedly been investigating harassment at Activision Blizzard since May 2020. A subsequent press release from Activision Blizzard confirmed that it was “actively engaged in continued discussions with the EEOC and has cooperated with the EEOC’s investigation concerning certain employment practices.” The WSJ reports that those discussions involve a settlement worth potentially millions of dollars.
Bobby Kotick provided a statement on the situation, saying, “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. We remain committed to addressing all workplace issues in a forthright and prompt manner.”
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is now also investigating Activision Blizzard for how the company handled allegations of sexual misconduct and workplace discrimination. This is a separate investigation following a similar lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed Activision, including CEO Bobby Kotick. The SEC is requesting documents from Activision board meetings from 2019, personnel files for former employees as well as separation agreements the company made this year.
The SEC also requested communication logs between Kotick and other Activision senior executives, particularly in regards to anything about sexual harassment or discrimination complaints.
In a statement to WSJ, Activision confirmed the SEC’s investigation and says the company is “cooperating with the SEC.”
The investigation is the second against Activision Blizzard after the CDFH accused the video game developer behind Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, of regularly discriminating against female employees. The lawsuit says the company regularly underpaid female employees for the same work, and created a hostile work environment with rampant sexual harassment.
Activision Blizzard initially dismissed the lawsuit, but investigations have shown discontent among employees, and the company’s response led to a walkout in protest. While Kotick has since called the initial response “tone-deaf” the National Labor Relations Board recently accused Activision of intimidating employees for speaking out.
The company has also hired a new Chief People Officer, Julie Hodges, from the Walt Disney Co. to oversee HR and build a more equitable workplace.
(Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s News Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.