• Activision said 29 of 114 reports of misconduct were substantiated by investigators
  • It faces multiple lawsuits and investigations into sexual misconduct and union-busting activities
  • The company is looking to seal a takeover deal from Microsoft, but the U.K. and U.S. oppose it

Video game company Activision Blizzard says an internal investigation has found evidence of misconduct in more than two dozen employee complaints as the Santa Monica, California-based company fights multiple lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) transparency filing Wednesday, the "Call of Duty" maker said investigators substantiated 29 of 114 reports of harassment, discrimination or retaliation among its employees last year. Most of the reported workplace misconducts were initiated by active employees.

"Even one instance of harassment, discrimination or retaliation is one too many. We have robust procedures in place to resolve workplace concerns in a neutral and fair manner and to take appropriate corrective action," Activation noted.

The company went on to reveal that it made 39 corrective measures, including terminating workers for misgendering, unwanted advances and discriminatory language. Among them, two were related to non-consensual touching, four were related to unwanted advances and another four were linked to physical assault.

The video game giant said it "made clear that any employee found to have retaliated against any other employee for making a bona fide compliance complaint will be terminated," adding 36% of all the actions taken against substantiated misconduct reports led to termination.

Activision Blizzard's transparency report comes amid multiple lawsuits and investigations into sexual misconduct and union-busting activities at the "World of Warcraft" publisher in recent years.

In March, Kayla Blado, a spokeswoman for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), said Activision Blizzard illegally surveilled organizing employees during a walkout staged last year.

Blado accused the company of threatening to shut down internal Slack channels where employees often discussed working conditions. The threat was a violation of labor laws, Blado said.

Last October, a lawsuit claimed the company fostered poor working conditions, sexism and harassment under CEO Robert Kotick.

"For years, Activision Blizzard's open 'frat boy' environment fostered rampant sexism, harassment and discrimination with 700 reported incidents occurring under CEO Robert Kotick's watch," the lawsuit alleged, adding that sexual misconduct was "often committed by executives and in the presence of the HR."

The lawsuit specifically named former product manager Miguel Vega as the sexual assailant. Vega allegedly groped the complainant at work and verbally abused her.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Kotick was aware of the sexual misconduct allegations at the company but he did not act on them and never informed the board of some of the reports, including alleged rapes.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued Activision Blizzard in 2021 over claims of a "frat boy" workplace culture that subjected female employees to gender discrimination and "constant sexual harassment."

The DFEH accused the video game developer of having an advancement culture where "very few women ever reach top roles" and women of color were "particularly vulnerable targets" of discriminatory practices.

In an interview with Variety on Wednesday, Kotick denied allegations that Activision Blizzard had a "systemic issue with harassment."

"We didn't have any of what were mischaracterizations reported in the media. But what we did have was a very aggressive labor movement working hard to try and destabilize the company," he said.

On unionizing employees, Kotick said the company has "worked thoughtfully and productively" with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) labor union, which has helped organize workers at Activision's Raven Software and another unit in Albany, New York.

Microsoft's bid to acquire Activision Blizzard has hit stumbling blocks as it faces stiff opposition from regulators. Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the $69-billion deal citing competition in the cloud gaming market.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has already voiced opposition to Microsoft's takeover of Activision Blizzard, saying the deal will "harm competition" as the big tech giant had a penchant for withholding content from its gaming competitors.

The Activision booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles
Activision Blizzard has been the subject of scrutiny in recent years following an expose by The Wall Street Journal and multiple complaints of sexual misconduct in the workplace.