SEC is Reportedly Investigating Activision Blizzard Over Workplace Practices
Activision Blizzard is facing yet another investigation according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, in addition to the California’s Department of Fair Employment & Housing's (DFEH) ongoing lawsuit. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating the gaming company and it has also subpoenaed Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, for records pertaining to employment, separation agreements, and communications between senior executives. The WSJ report states that the SEC is investigating if the company was efficient in disclosing information about harassment and discrimination claims at the workplace.
Multiple Activision Blizzard executives have stepped down amidst the controversy
Activision Blizzard was sued earlier this year by the DFEH, which is accusing the company of discriminating against its female employees at virtually all levels of employment, which included compensation, promotion, assignments, and termination. Amidst all of the controversy, Blizzard employees formed an employee activist group and sought greater transparency regarding pay and hiring practices at the workplace.
Activision CEO J. Allen Brack stepped down from the position of CEO and global human resources executive Jesse Meschuk left the company on the same day as well. Brack was accused in the lawsuit as having known of the alleged workplace abuse. This was cited in the lawsuit and he has been cited as a complicit party.
Activision Blizzard’s vice president of corporate affairs and former Homeland Security advisor Frances Townsend claimed that the allegations are distorted and painted an untrue picture of the company. It led to social media backlash and CEO Bobby Kotick issued a press release stating that Townsend’s response was tone-deaf, and he laid out guidelines for how the company could strive to do better. He also said that there will be listening sessions in place which will allow employees and workers to relay their grievances.
Activision Blizzard allegedly threatened its employees to prevent them from speaking up
The DFEH had also claimed that “documents related to investigations and complaints were shredded by human resource personnel.” The DFEH also claims that Activision Blizzard has required employees to sign NDAs and speak internally before contacting the agency. The government body updated its filing with a statement against Activison Blizzard which said that the company was interfering with its ability to “investigate, prosecute, and remedy workplace discrimination and harassment violations on behalf of employees and contingent or temporary workers.”
A complaint filed at the United States of America National Labor Relations Board claims the company has "has threatened employees that they cannot talk about or communicate about wages, hours and working conditions." Additionally, it also claims Activision has "maintained an overly broad social media policy; enforced the social media policy against employees who have engaged in protected concerted activity; threatened or disciplined employees on account of protected concerted activity; engaged in surveillance of employees engaged in protected concerted activity and engaged in interrogation of employees about protected concerted activity"