The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on February 3 that it brought charges against Activision Blizzard Inc. The company is responsible for such video games as Call of Duty, Tony Hawk’s, Guitar Hero, Candy Crush, and Overwatch. Among other things, Activision is accused of violating whistleblower protections. The company agreed to pay $35 million to settle these charges.
According to the announcement, the Santa Monica-based company that is part of the S&P 500 executed separation agreements between 2016-2021 that violated Rule 21F-17, which states that no one can take actions that prevent whistleblowers from communicating with the SEC staff about securities law breaches. Their non-disclosure agreements said that ex-workers should comply with all applicable laws, but it required them to notify the company if the work received communication from SEC s staffers.
Activision also admitted that it lacked controls and procedures among its various businesses to collect and investigate employee claims of misconduct in the workplace between 2018 and 2021. Activision’s inability to do this work violated public disclosure rules. In doing so, it violated Exchange Act Rules 13a-15(a)
Those with questions about a company’s pattern of overly restrictive non-disclosure agreements, inability to deal with employee complaints or other issues can file a tip with the SEC. However, many whistleblowers find it helpful to work with attorneys who can protect their client’s legal and financial best interests if a situation like this arises.