Activision says the SEC is probing its workplace issues

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(Sept 21): Activision Blizzard Inc. said it was subpoenaed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is investigating disclosures regarding workplace issues at the embattled video-game giant.

“The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting an investigation concerning the company’s disclosures regarding employment matters and related issues, and has issued subpoenas to the company and several current and former employees that seek information related to this,” Activision said Monday in a statement to Bloomberg. “The company is cooperating with the SEC.”

The investigation was first reported Monday by the Wall Street Journal, which cited documents and people familiar with the investigation. The newspaper said that Activision Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick was subpoenaed.

Activision’s troubles have snowballed in recent weeks. In mid-September, a union filed a federal labor board complaint accusing the company of violating the law through coercive rules, actions and statements. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company in July, alleging Activision fostered a “frat boy” culture in which female employees were subjected to sexual harassment, pay inequality and retaliation. Days later, an employee walkout drew hundreds of demonstrators to the sidewalks at a company campus in Irvine, California.

In a July email to employees, Activision’s chief compliance officer called the California agency’s claims “factually incorrect, old and out of context.”

Kotick later apologized for a “tone deaf” initial response to concerns in a letter to employees and engaged a law firm to revamp the company’s practices. Activision recently hired several new executives to address the company’s corporate culture.

Shares of Activision fell 4.3% to $76.18 at the close in New York.