Investigations into Activision harassment cases expanded

Court documents show the DFEH asked in late January to have access to any complaint against or investigation into 19 Activision employees, including Kotick. — AFP

NEW YORK: Investigations into US video game giant Activision Blizzard over accusations of discrimination and harassment are 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 the company condoned a culture of sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, and inequality.

Court documents seen Thursday by AFP show the DFEH asked in late January to have access to any complaint against or investigation into 19 Activision employees, including CEO Bobby Kotick.

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

The new requests come weeks after Microsoft announced it intended to buy Activision Blizzard, creator of Call Of Duty and Candy Crush, for US$68.7bil (RM287.56bil).

The documents do not directly name the individuals the DFEH has requested information about, but they do say the Activision chief executive and the former chief executive of Blizzard Entertainment are on the list.

The DFEH requests serve "no legitimate purpose", an Activision spokesperson said, noting they contain "sensitive, confidential information with no limits or relative scope".

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

This agency had negotiated with Activision to create an US$18mil (RM75.34mil) compensation fund for harassment victims.

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

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

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