Family of Activision-Blizzard employee allegedly harassed into suicide filed a wrongful death suit

Plus: Kotick leaves the board of Coca-Cola and ABK fails to comply with board diversity law


If Activision-Blizzard was hoping that recent world events would be taking all of the pressure of the company’s ongoing scandal and fallout, then such a notion was disabused this past week by several significant developments.

First, CEO Bobby Kotick is “stepping down” from the board of directors at Coca-Cola following pressure by investors and other industry to oust the scandal-ridden exec from this high-profile position. Kotick released a statement late Friday night saying that he made the move “in order to focus [his] full attention on Activision-Blizzard at this pivotal time as [it] prepare[s] for [its] merger with Microsoft.”

However, there was undoubtedly a lot of pressure from investors, workers, activisits, and industry leaders to see Kotick resign from the board. SOC Investment Group called for his ousting last year in a public statement, saying, “Mr. Kotick’s tolerance of sexist, harassing, and discriminatory behavior, as well as the duplicitous and misleading statements he has made, strongly indicate that he does not possess the bare minimum ethical qualifications to serve as a director.”

Second, Activision-Blizzard is getting slapped by a wrongful death suit by the parents of a former employee who died from suicide in 2017.

Polygon reports that the parents of 32-year-old Kerri Moynihan claim that the company’s “hostile, intimidating, offensive, and abusive” workplace directly led to the death of their daughter on a company trip. Moynihan was a finance manager for Latin American operations who started at the company in 2011.

This is the first time that we’ve learned of the name of the employee mentioned in the California lawsuit filed against Activision-Blizzard in 2021. That filing said that the nameless employee killed herself “due to a sexual relationship that she had been having with her male supervisor” as well as being harassed in the workplace.

The manager in question is Greg Restituito, a senior finance director who left the company in 2017. Allegedly, Restituito went into Moynihan’s apartment to clean and remove items following her death, and Activision-Blizzard refused to hand over his cellphone and her laptop to the police.

Finally, Activision-Blizzard has admitted it failed to comply with a 2018 California law that requires at least three women on a board of six or more members for publicly traded companies (only two of the 10 on ABK’s board are women). According to the company, in spite of knowing it had a deadline of 2021 to comply with the law, it didn’t even start a candidate search until 2021, three years after the was passed. Activision-Blizzard told the SEC that the Microsoft buyout interfered with its efforts, though of course this makes no sense as Microsoft didn’t even approach ABK about a possible buyout until December – the same month as the compliance deadline. As GIbiz reports, there’s no specified punishment for non-compliance, though the company can be fined $100K by the state of California for failing to file on time.

Source: CNBC, Polygon, GIbiz
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees strike and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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