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SEC Investigating Activision Blizzard, Subpoenas Executives

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued subpoenas for a number of Activision senior executives in an investigation into how the company has handled allegations for a discriminatory work place culture and sexual misconduct. A Wall Street Journal report cites sources familiar with the investigation and documents that they themselves have viewed and authenticated.

These sources reveal SEC subpoenas for “Activision…and several of its senior executives.” Among these is Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. As part of the subpoenas, the SEC is requesting a number of documents, including “Kotick’s communications with other senior executives” regarding the allegations, as well as minutes from all Activision board meetings back to 2019, the personnel files of six unidentified former employees, and any separation agreements between the company and its employees.

Activision spokeswoman Helaine Klasky confirmed the Wall Street Journal report, saying that “the company is cooperating with the SEC” in its investigations into “the company’s disclosures regarding employment matters and related issues.” Klasky also confirmed the subpoenas of “several current and former employees.”

This is the latest in the ongoing investigations into Activision Blizzard that kicked off earlier this year with a California DFEH lawsuit alleging a discriminatory “frat boy” culture at the company. As a federal agency, the SEC’s concerns are not so much around the labor practices themselves as they are about whether or not Activision Blizzard executives disclosed known allegations about harassment and gender discrimination to “investors and other parties;” in short giving investors enough information to work with to make educated decisions about their investments, effectively to prevent market manipulation from a publicly traded company.

Some Activision Blizzard investors filed lawsuits of their own following the DFEH lawsuit, which may have been what prompted the SEC to become involved. While the SEC’s involvement isn’t strictly tied to the labor practices, it’s the latest in a number of investigations and lawsuits against Activision Blizzard that have arisen since the DFEH lawsuit was filed and made public. Recently the Activision Blizzard employee coalition partnered with an employee union to file charges to the National Labor Relations Board regarding alleged worker intimidation after stories came out of vocal employees seeking change being told by recruiters that they “freak candidates out.”

Activision spokeswoman Helaine Klasky gave a boilerplate response to WSJ regarding both the SEC and NLRB investigations, saying they have “made great efforts to respect the rights of all employees under the NLRB,” as well as “have made and are making a number of important changes to improve our policies and procedures to ensure that there is no place anywhere in our company for discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment of any kind.” Employees at Activision Blizzard calling for change, however, still don’t think the executive team has done enough or adequately responded to their demands.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]


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