Activision Blizzard is forced to pay the piper and settle with a $35m charge by the SEC
Can the company finally put this controversy behind it?
The ongoing saga of Activision Blizzard’s legal trouble with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may finally have an end in sight. The SEC has announced that Activision Blizzard agreed to pay $35 million for “failing to maintain disclosure controls related to complaints of workplace misconduct” and “violating whistleblower protection rule.” This decision by the SEC comes after a long investigation into the company for poor workplace allegations.
Back in September 2021, the SEC began its investigation of Activision Blizzard. The company was facing months of backlash for having a workplace mentality that is described as a “frat boy” house. Female employees accused the company of mistreatment and discrimination, and over a thousand employees staged a walkout in July 2021. The president of Blizzard, J. Allen Brack, quickly stepped down from his position, and soon after, the head of HR, Jesse Meschuk, also left.
When the SEC started its investigation of Activision Blizzard, the organization subpoenaed the company. As part of the subpoena, several senior executives of the company, including CEO Bobby Kotick, had to hand over communication logs to the SEC to aid in the investigation. The SEC also requested documents for Activision board meetings from 2019 and personnel files for former employees. The point of the investigation is to find out how the company handles sexual allegations and discrimination in the workplace.
SEC has now shared the results of its investigations, claiming the corporation failed to maintain procedures that ensured it could adequately collect and analyze employees’ complaints of misconduct, resulting in the company failing to “understand the volume and substance of employee complaints.” The SEC also hit Activision Blizzard with a separate charge for violating its whistleblower protection rule. According to the SEC, Activision Blizzard requested former employees to inform the company if they have been contacted by the SEC staff for information.
Activision Blizzard has not admitted or denied the SEC’s findings and will pay the full $35 million penalty, agreeing to a cease-and-desist order as well.