Early on in our coverage of the Activision-Blizzard sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit scandal, we noted that the company’s response took some ineffective swipes at the state of California bureau heading the investigation and all but threatened to leave the state over the suit. Activision-Blizzard may want to set aside that posturing now, as it’ll have nowhere to go: The US Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating the company over the allegations as part of a federal probe.
As first reported in the Wall Street Journal, the SEC has subpoenaed Activision along with executives including no less than Bobby Kotick himself, seeking everything from personnel files and board meeting minutes to termination documents and Kotick’s communications relating to employee complaints. Activision confirmed the investigation to WSJ and said it’s “cooperating with the SEC.”
Readers will recall that in July, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a civil rights and equal pay lawsuit against the company on behalf of its victimized employees following a two-year investigation. The company was initially defiant, but a steady flow of accusations, leaks, memos, and evidence ultimately led to protests, apologies, multiple fired staffers and executives, sponsors abandoning Blizzard esports, and a rising labor movement within the company – a labor movement whose demands have gone mostly unaddressed by Activision-Blizzard, unless you count its contracting of a union-busting firm. Just in the last month, California amended its lawsuit with allegations that Activision-Blizzard has been illegally interfering with witnesses and destroying evidence. “[D]ocuments related to investigations and complaints were shredded by human resource personnel,” the state says.
The investigation couldn’t come at a worse time for Blizzard itself; the studio has pinned a great many of its hopes on the Diablo II: Resurrected remaster launching this week.
Here’s the whole saga: