Activision Blizzard is now under investigation by the SEC. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenaed Bobby Kotick, the CEO of the video game publishing company, in order to obtain records regarding employment, separation agreements and communications between senior executives. According to the Wall Street Journal, Activision Blizzard is being investigated for allegedly disclosing information regarding harassment and discrimination claims to investors.
Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for creating a culture of harassment, abuse, and discrimination. According to the suit, employees participated in activities such as a cube crawl where men consumed large quantities of alcohol while moving around harassing or groping female employees. Another account was of the Cosby suite, where Blizzard employees created a room in Blizzcon 2013 in which men tried to seduce women with alcohol.
Blizzard employees organized a walkout in the wake of the original suit and created an employee activist group to push for transparency about pay practices and forced arbitration. Many Blizzard executives have left the company, or gone unnoticed by the public. J. Allen Brack, the CEO of Blizzard, resigned on August 3. Jesse Meschuk, the head of global human resource management, also resigned on August 3. Brack was named as the plaintiff in the lawsuit for knowing about and failing to address abuse against female employees. Blizzard Human Resources was also cited as complicit in the allegations that it overlooked or under-investigated claims of harassment.
Frances Townsend Activision Blizzards Vice President of Corporate Affairs and former Homeland Security Advisor called the lawsuit a distorted picture of our company. CEO Bobby Kotick released a press release calling Blizzards response tone deaf and promising action, including employee listening sessions. According to Blizzard sources, the listening sessions were nothing more than propaganda sessions that ended after employees complained about their quality.
This latest investigation is just one of a series of cases against Activision Blizzard. Blizzard employee activist organization A Better ABK filed a charge at the National Labor Relations Board last week with the help of the CODE-CWA, a digital workers labor organisation. The complaint alleges Activision Blizzard:
Threatened employees to tell them they couldn't talk about or discuss wages, hours, and working conditions. Also told employees that they could not communicate with employees or discuss ongoing investigations into wages, hours, and working conditions. Developed a broad social media policy. Enforced the policy against employees who engage in protected concerted activities. Threatened or disciplined employees for engaging in protected concerted action. Engaged in surveillance of employees involved in protected activity. Interrogated employees about protected concerted.
According to Wall Street Journal Activision Blizzard has cooperated with the investigation.