Activision Blizzard will pay $35 million to settle US government allegations that the video game giant violated a whistleblower protection rule and lacked processes to collect workplace misconduct complaints, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The agreement announced Friday is the latest blow to the embattled publisher, which has faced widespread criticism over numerous allegations of sexual harassment, retaliation and other workplace misconduct. The company is also the subject of a highly scrutinized $69 billion acquisition deal by Microsoft.
Because of its lack of procedures to understand the breadth and nature of misconduct complaints, Activision Blizzard could not adequately determine whether it needed to disclose those issues to investors, the SEC said.
The SEC also alleged that between 2016 and 2021, Activision Blizzard illegally included a clause in employee separation agreements that required them to notify the company if the SEC began asking them questions.
The company’s settlement with the SEC is not an admission of fault. In a statement, Activision Blizzard said it was pleased to have resolved the government investigation.
“As the order recognizes, we have enhanced our disclosure processes with regard to workplace reporting and updated our separation contract language,” the company said. “We did so as part of our continuing commitment to operational excellence and transparency. Activision Blizzard is confident in its workplace disclosures.”