The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that Activision Blizzard will pay £28.9million ($35million) to settle charges related to gathering workplace misconduct information and violating whistleblower protections.
The payment will settle charges that relate to the company’s handling of misconduct claims within the company. The SEC claims that between 2018 and 2021, Activision Blizzard was “aware that its ability to attract, retain, and motivate employees was a particularly important risk in its business,” yet it lacked the “controls and procedures” to investigate a wave of workplace misconduct complaints that made headlines in 2021.
In a press release, the SEC adds that Activision Blizzard failed to understand the “volume and substance” of workplace misconduct complaints.
Part of Activision Blizzard’s £28.9million payment will also address charges that the company violated an SEC whistleblower protection rule. According to the SEC, Activision Blizzard broke violated whistleblower protection by telling employees they needed to inform the company if they were asked for any information by the SEC.
“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,” shared Jason Burt, director of the SEC’s Denver 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.”
However, it’s worth noting that Activision Blizzard’s payment does not mean the company admits or denies the SEC’s findings – though it did agree to a cease-and-desist order.
Though the payment addresses these specific charges, Activision Blizzard remains involved in a number of legal proceedings regarding allegations of a “frat boy workplace culture” at the company.