December 10, 2022
Investigation of activism harassment cases expanded

An investigation into US video game giant Activision Blizzard over allegations of discrimination and harassment is being expanded, according to court documents and media reports.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) launched a lawsuit against Activision last summer, alleging that the company perpetrated a culture of sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, and inequality.

Court documents seen by AFP on Thursday show the DFEH asked in late January to access any complaints or investigations against 19 Activision employees, including CEO Bobby Kotick.

The agency requested access to any police files regarding complaints filed at Activision’s BlizzCon conventions from 2015 to 2019, as well as the offices of its subsidiary Blizzard in the city of Irvine and Activision in Santa Monica through June 20, 2021.

The new requests come weeks after Microsoft announced the purchase of Call of Duty and Candy Crush makers Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion (roughly Rs. 5,12,510 crores).

The documents do not directly name the individuals the DFEH has requested information about, but they do say that Activision’s CEO and Blizzard Entertainment’s former CEO are on the list.

An Activision spokesperson said that the DFEH requests serve “no legitimate purpose”, noting that they contain “sensitive, confidential information that has no limits or relative scope.”

Instead, the spokesperson said, they are another questionable tactic in the DFEH’s broader effort to derail Activision’s settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency.

The agency was in talks with Activision to create an $18 million (roughly Rs. 135 crore) compensation fund for harassment victims.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the US market agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has also expanded its investigation into the activism. The investigation was launched in September to determine whether the company had adequately disclosed complaints of harassment and discrimination.

The SEC recently requested documents related to a significantly expanded list of current and former executives, going beyond the initial request, the Journal reported.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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