Regulators Reportedly Widen Probe Into Activision Workplace Misconduct

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Regulators Reportedly Widen Probe Into Activision Workplace Misconduct
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Activision Blizzard may be on the verge of sealing the video game industry’s largest merger ever, but even its impending deal with Microsoft can’t stop the momentum of investigations into workplace misconduct at the company.

As part of its lawsuit over an alleged “frat house” culture at Activision where women were subject to sexual harassment and unequal pay, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is now issuing subpoenas to Activision directors to determine their knowledge and handling of the allegations, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The agency also subpoenaed Los Angeles-area police departments for records on Activision CEO Bobby Kotick and 18 other current and former employees—including documents related to the company’s annual BlizzCon event, where employees once drank and partied in a hotel suite nicknamed after disgraced comedian Bill Cosby.

Separately, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is also expanding its own investigation into Activision by subpoenaing more records from a longer list of Activision executives dating back to 2016, according to the Journal.

In September, Activision struck an $18 million settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over the workplace misconduct allegations. Last month, the DFEH stepped in to block the settlement, arguing it could damage the state’s case against the video game developer.

When reached for comment, an Activision spokesperson told dot.LA that the DFEH’s requests for police records had “no legitimate purpose.”

“It represents yet another questionable tactic in DFEH’s broader effort to derail Activision Blizzard’s settlement with the EEOC,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Rather than protecting California workers, the DFEH is impeding the meaningful progress at Activision Blizzard and delaying compensation to affected employees.”

While the DFEH declined to comment on its ongoing investigation, an agency spokesperson told dot.LA that Activision filed a motion to dismiss the DFEH’s police department subpoenas earlier this month. Activision also filed its own subpoena directed to DFEH attorneys, which the agency filed a motion to quash on Feb. 10, the spokesperson said.

The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The state and federal investigations are taking place against the backdrop of Microsoft’s $69 billion bid to acquire Activision, which is pending antitrust approval. The deal isn’t expected to close until 2023; in the meantime, Activision continues to exist as a standalone entity subject to both regulatory queries and private lawsuits. According to SEC filings, Microsoft would owe Activision $3 billion if it reneges on the deal; likewise, Activision would be liable for $2.3 billion if it backed out.

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