According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Activision Blizzard has agreed to a $35 million settlement to settle charges of violating an SEC whistleblower protection rule and other charges that the company didn’t maintain workplace disclosure protections.
The SEC’s order says 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, but it lacked controls and procedures among its separate business units to collect and analyze employee complaints of workplace misconduct. As a result, the company’s management lacked sufficient information to understand the volume and substance of employee complaints about workplace misconduct and did not assess whether any material issues existed that would have required public disclosure.”
As for the whistleblower rule, the SEC accused the company of requiring employees in separation agreements to let the company know if they received a request for information from the sec, in violation of SEC rules.
“The SEC’s order finds that Activision Blizzard violated Exchange Act Rules 13a-15(a) and 21F-17(a). Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Activision Blizzard agreed to a cease-and-desist order and to pay a $35 million penalty.”
Thus, the settlement merely settles the charges and is not any admission of wrongdoing.
Activision Blizzard previously agreed to an $18 million settlement deal with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over hostile workplace culture, harassment, and discrimination charges. There was some opposition to that deal, but it was eventually approved by a judge. There are still open cases in places like California having to do with those hostile workplace allegations.
Yet, the company, which is in the process of attempted acquisition by Microsoft, has publicly committed to improving workplace culture, with several hires to help in that process, as well as public disclosures of things like employee diversity.
As for the current SEC charges being settled with this new deal, it seems the company can now put those behind it.
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