Activision’s CEO knew, covered up allegations of sexual harassment and rape: WSJ

  • Activision CEO Bobby Kotick knew for years about allegations of sexual harassment and rape in his company, reports WSJ.
  • In at least one case, Kotick is said to have intervened to detain a study leader who was accused of harassment.
  • Activision said the investigation “presents a misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO.”

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Activision’s longtime CEO Bobby Kotick reportedly knew for years about a series of allegations of sexual harassment and rape in his company.

A major new study from the Wall Street Journal describes several specific examples of harassment and rape at Activision. Kotick was not only aware of these allegations, but in at least one case, he allegedly intervened to detain a male employee accused of sexual harassment, despite the company’s human resources department recommending he be fired.

In one case, a female employee of Activision’s subsidiary Sledgehammer Games (which works on the “Call of Duty” franchise) said she was raped twice by her male supervisor, in 2016 and in 2017. She reported this to the company’s HR department, as she said she did not take anything until she got a lawyer. Activision decided the case out of court, and Kotick did not tell the company’s board, according to the Journal.

In another case, Dan Bunting, head of Activision-owned studio Treyarch, was accused of harassing a female employee, and Activision’s HR department recommended that he be released. Instead, Kotick stepped in, and Bunting was given “advice and permission to remain in the company,” according to the report.

After Activision was asked about the Journal incident, Bunting left Treyarch.

In a statement, Activision challenged the reporting of the Wall Street Journal:

“We are disappointed with the Wall Street Journal’s report, which presents a misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO. Incidents of sexual misconduct that were brought to his attention were dealt with. WSJ ignores important changes underway to make this industry most welcoming and inclusive workplaces, and it fails to account for the efforts of thousands of employees who work hard every day to live up to their – and our – values.The constant desire to get better has always separated this company. In Mr Kotick’s direction, we’ve made significant improvements, including a zero – tolerance policy towards inappropriate behavior, and that’s why we’re moving forward with unwavering focus, speed and resources to continue to increase diversity across the board. our company and industry and to ensure that all employees come to work and feel valued, safe, respected and inspired right. We will not stop until we have the best workplace for our team. “

In response to the report, an Activision employee group said it staged a walkout and demanded that Kotick “be replaced as CEO.”

Meanwhile, a statement from Activision’s board of directors confirmed its commitment to Kotick.

“The Board remains convinced that Bobby Kotick was properly addressing workplace issues he became aware of,” the statement said. “The goals we have set for ourselves are both critical and ambitious. The board remains confident in Bobby Kotick’s leadership, commitment and ability to achieve those goals.”

The new report comes after the state of California sued the company this summer for allegations that female Activision employees were subjected to “constant sexual harassment”, from “constantly having to fend off unwanted sexual comments” to “being groped”. When employees report problems to human resources and management, the lawsuit claimed no action was taken.

The case – filed July 20 in the Los Angeles Supreme Court – followed a two-year investigation conducted by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. It claims “Call of Duty” producer Activision promotes a “pervasive frat boy” culture in which women are paid less for the same jobs that men perform, are regularly subjected to sexual harassment and are targeted for reporting problems.

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