Federal and state regulators have widened their investigations into how Activision Blizzard Inc.’s
leadership handled workplace misconduct claims, according to documents and people familiar with the probes, as the videogame giant works to complete a planned $75 billion sale to Microsoft Corp.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, a state watchdog agency, has subpoenaed Activision’s directors related to the company’s handling of the workplace issues, according to people familiar with the matter. It also has subpoenaed police departments in the Los Angeles-area for any records they have related to longtime Chief Executive Bobby Kotick and 18 other current and former Activision employees, according to the people and to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The department’s move represents an escalation of its original complaint against Activision, which was made public in July. That complaint alleged sexual harassment and gender-pay disparity across the company’s roughly 10,000 employees, but didn’t specifically mention Kotick, except regarding his salary, or Activision’s directors.
Activision has disputed the department’s allegations and an Activision spokeswoman called the subpoenas to police departments an “extraordinary fishing expedition.”
Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission has sent an additional subpoena to Activision as part of an investigation it launched last year into the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations. The SEC, as part of that investigation subpoenaed several senior Activision executives, the Journal reported in September, including Kotick, who has led Activision for more than 30 years. Activision has said it is cooperating with the SEC probe.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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