The consequences are mounting for gaming giant Activision Blizzard after the company was subjected to a historic state investigation into discriminatory workplace practices and sexual harassment this summer.
Today, Activision Blizzard confirms that it is the subject of a federal investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has stepped up its enforcement efforts against technology companies in recent months.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the SEC had subpoenaed Activision Blizzard and a number of key company executives, including CEO Bobby Kotick. Activision Blizzard confirmed the SEC’s investigation on Tuesday in a statement to investors, noting that it “continues to work productively with regulators” including the SEC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The SEC has requested documents from the company, including “the minutes of Activision board meetings since 2019, the personal files of six former employees and the separation agreements the company entered into that years with staff, ”according to the WSJ. The newspaper also reported that the agency is looking for any documents between Kotick and other executives discussing allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination within the company.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Activision Blizzard in July over allegations it created a hostile environment of “brotherhood” in which gender-based harassment and discrimination were routine.
Following an inflammatory response from company executives, who dismissed the lawsuit as “irresponsible state officials,” a group of employees staged a high-profile walkout. The protest drew solidarity from many corners of the gaming world and brought more attention to the work environment in which many Blizzard workers have reportedly suffered for years.
Activision Blizzard is releasing some of the biggest titles in the game, including the Call of Duty franchise, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Starcraft. The wave of regulatory interest in allegations of a toxic and hostile work environment at the company could have far-reaching implications for the workplace culture not only at Activision Blizzard, but for the gaming industry across the board. his outfit.
After the state lawsuit became public, former Blizzard Entertainment chairman J. Allen Brack left the company, followed by its global head of human resources, Jesse Meschuk. Blizzard Entertainment’s legal director Claire Hart became the last high-profile employee to announce her departure on Tuesday, signaling that she would not be sticking around to weather the regulatory storm.
“The past three years have been full of unexpected twists and turns, but I feel honored to have worked and met so many great people at Blizzard and in the activities of Activision Blizzard,” Hart wrote on Linkedin.