Activision Clears Itself Of Any Wrongdoing Over Sexual Harassment Allegations
It was the lawsuit that lifted the lid on the gaming world, and just under a year after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard amidst allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination, the gaming giant has cleared itself of any wrongdoing.
In the wake of Weinstein and #MeToo, you might've thought the entertainment industry had learned to be a better place. Instead, harrowing allegations about a frat boy culture, what was going on at the top of Activision Blizzard HQ, and parties behind the doors of the "Cosby Suite" sent shockwaves through the publisher behind the likes of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
What Does The Activision Blizzard Investigation Say?
While the world turned against Activision Blizzard, incumbent CEO Bobby Kotick refused to budge, and instead, vowed to weed out the bad apples from inside. For many, this wasn't enough, as Kotick became a figure of hate. A year later and he still remains the divisive figurehead of the problematic publisher.
In a new SEC filing, Activision Blizzard says there is "no evidence" that senior executives or members of the board knew of any instances of harassment, then doubled down on the idea it was downplayed in the aftermath. The filing then asks shareholders to vote against a proposal to create a report on how the publisher tries to prevent abuse and harassment. The findings of former Equal Employment Opportunity Commission chair Gilbert Casellas apparently conducted his own investigation, with the report saying his findings matching Activision Blizzard's internal review.
"While there are some substantiated instances of gender harassment," says the filing. "Those unfortunate circumstances do not support the conclusion that Activision senior leadership or the Board were aware of and tolerated gender harassment or that there was ever a systemic issue with harassment, discrimination or retaliation." It goes on to claim that "media criticism of the Board and Activision Blizzard senior executives as insensitive to workplace matters is without merit."
What's Next For Activision Blizzard?
Apparently, Casellas argues that the volume of sexual harassment reports from within Activision Blizzard is much lower than you'd expect from a corporation of its size, which is a pretty grim attempt at giving the victims solace. Of course, a lot of the allegations and controversy have been swept under the rug. Although it once looked like no one would touch Activision Blizzard with a barge pole, its record-breaking acquisition by Microsoft left jaws on the floor.
Just weeks before announcing it planned to purchase Activision Blizzard, Microsoft said it was "changing" the way it handled the troubled publisher. Little did we know that it was queueing up a buyout for the ages. For those unhappy with Activision Blizzard's internal findings, rest assured that a myriad of active court cases could soon turn the tide. Kotick's future is also unsure, and in April, we reported that Microsoft still doesn't know what to do with him. Even as Activision Blizzard seemingly attempts to draw a line under the situation, it's clear an ugly cesspit of allegations still bubble beneath the surface.