DFEH and SEC expand investigations into Activision Blizzard
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Securities and Exchange Commission are both expanding their investigations into Activision Blizzard, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
These expanded investigations come as the company navigates the proposed acquisition by Microsoft. The scope of the respective investigations raises different concerns about what regulators might uncover about Activision Blizzard’s alleged culture of sexual harassment, toxicity and abuse.
Both agencies have filed multiple subpoenas that revolve around the conduct of Activison Blizzard executives and employees. The SEC investigation examines the extent to which CEO Bobby Kotick told the company’s board about reports of sexual harassment at the company.
The DFEH investigation (which made the alleged corporate culture public last summer) now subpoenas Kotick, other employees and several Los Angeles-area police departments. These subpoenas are apparently being fought in court by Activision Blizzard attorneys.
The report does not indicate the type of documents that the DFEH requests from law enforcement. When asked to comment, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson provided the following statement on the DFEH subpoenas:
“The DFEH is requesting sensitive and confidential information without limits or relevant scope from the Southern California Police Department. It serves no legitimate purpose. This represents yet another questionable tactic in the DFEH’s broader effort to derail the AB’s settlement with the EEOC, the DFEH is hampering meaningful progress for Activision Blizzard and delaying compensation for affected employees.”
Activision Blizzard’s statement appears to partially reference the agency’s objections to a proposed settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A federal judge has already rejected said objection, but the DFEH is appealing.
It’s not good news for Microsoft or Activision Blizzard that the SEC and DFEH investigations are expanding, and it’s worrying to see the game publisher continue to aggressively push back against the DFEH investigation even as new allegations come to light.
It remains to be seen what kind of liability Activision Blizzard executives will face for allegedly allowing so much harm to be done to employees. Rumors of Kotick’s departure indicate that he would receive a substantial financial salary upon his exit, and the EEOC’s proposed settlement may provide funds for survivors, but would not exactly empty the pockets of those who benefited while suffering. were happening.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft and the DFEH for comment, and will update this story when they respond.