The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating game publisher Activision Blizzard over claims of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination, issues now central to an ongoing California lawsuit and related labor complaints. News of the investigation was first reported on Monday by The Wall Street Journal.
The SEC has subpoenaed Activision Blizzard and several of its top executives, including CEO Bobby Kotick. The agency is seeking information related to the company's board meetings since 2019, when California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing first began investigating complaints of sexism and toxic workplace culture at subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment and other Activision-owned divisions. The DFEH filed its discrimination lawsuit against the company in July, kicking off a torrent of criticism, company protests and waves of new allegations against current and former employees.
The SEC is also seeking information about deals Activision Blizzard has made with employees in the last year that may have been designed to stymie ongoing investigations into the company's behavior and handling of sexual harassment cases. The primary concern is that Activision actively withheld information about these ongoing issues from investors and other parties.
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that "the company is cooperating with the SEC" and confirmed the existence of the subpoenas. "We 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," the spokesperson added.