Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay $35 million to settle a pair of charges related to complaints of workplace misconduct, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced.
In a statement released on Friday, the SEC said the Call of Duty and Warcraft publisher had previously lacked the tools and procedures necessary to adequately collect and analyse employee complaints of workplace misconduct.
The government agency, which is tasked with protecting investors and maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets, also said Activision Blizzard had broken the law by violating an SEC whistleblower protection rule.
An Activision spokesperson told VGC in a statement:
“We are pleased to have amicably resolved this matter. As the order recognizes, we have enhanced our disclosure processes with regard to workplace reporting and updated our separation contract language. We did so as part of our continuing commitment to operational excellence and transparency. Activision Blizzard is confident in its workplace disclosures.”
Without admitting or denying the findings, Activision Blizzard agreed to a cease-and-desist order and to pay a $35 million penalty.
“The SEC’s order finds that Activision Blizzard failed to implement necessary controls to collect and review employee complaints about workplace misconduct, which left it without the means to determine whether larger issues existed that needed to be disclosed to investors,” said Jason Burt, director of the SEC’s Denver regional office.
“Moreover, taking action to impede former employees from communicating directly with the Commission staff about a possible securities law violation is not only bad corporate governance, it is illegal.”
The SEC launched its investigation into Activision Blizzard’s handling of sexual misconduct and discrimination allegations in September 2021. It saw members of the company’s leadership team subpoenaed, including CEO Bobby Kotick.
Microsoft, which is currently seeking regulatory approval to acquire Activision Blizzard, has said it’s keeping an eye on the company’s leadership team and its handling of harassment claims so that it can determine who should still be in power should the deal be approved.