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Why it matters: The Securities and Exchange Commission has started investigating Activision Blizzard's handling of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment allegations. The game publisher has already been dealing with a lawsuit from the state of California over a complaint from a workers' group over the same allegations.
Sources and documents reveal that this is part of a broad investigation. The SEC has subpoenaed the company and some of its executives, including CEO Bobby Kotick.
According to documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the SEC is asking for information, including Activision board meeting minutes since 2019, employee separation agreements, and the personnel files of six former employees. It also wants records of Kotick's communications with other executives concerning discrimination and sexual harassment allegations that got Activision Blizzard sued by California and led to several major company departures.
Earlier this summer, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing opened a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for being host to a "frat boy" culture where harassment and discrimination occurred. The company's response sparked an employee walkout. Later, the president of Blizzard and some game designers who were implicated in the harassment left the company. Activision games like Call of Duty and Overwatch lost sponsorships from T-Mobile and other companies, and the US Army.
Earlier this month, the Communications Workers of America filed a complaint supporting the employees after the company was accused of impeding the DFEH's investigation. Activision Blizzard was accused of shredding documents and placing employees under strict surveillance.