Activision Blizzard, embroiled in legal wrangling over alleged appalling working conditions for its staff, has requested additional time to investigate and potentially disqualify the California Department of Fair and Equal Housing from its ongoing legal battle with the agency. This is due to the potential violations of ethics in its other ongoing legal battle with the California Department of Fair and Equal Housing. This is probably very bad for the prospects of the DFEH in both cases.
Lawsuits against Activision Blizzard once involved the alleged harassment for years of its employees, alleging the horrific treatment of female employees, sexual harassment and psychological trauma. Somehow, it’s now two warring parties, both supposedly trying to demonstrate these issues, in an elaborate legal feud that could end up hurting everyone involved. Except lawyers’ bank accounts.
The DFEH recently tried to intervene in an agreement between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Activision Blizzard. In doing so, the agency opened the door to an opposition from the EEOC, who claimed multiple ethics violations within the DFEH surrounding two former EEOC lawyers working on the case. Activision Blizzard has now used these allegations to seek a stay of proceedings in its own case with the DFEH. Activision Blizzard is also asking that, if the claims are true, the DFEH be disqualified from its own trial.
Much of Activision Blizzard’s evidence and argument resembles the objections made by the EEOC, including the claim that the entire DFEH investigation could be tainted with potential ethics violations. The request was also filed ex part, which means he could potentially skip standard court proceedings due to his urgency. This comes after the DFEH’s own attempt to ex part intervention, which was refused by the courts.
In addition to the EEOC’s ethical complaints, Activision Blizzard also argues that the DFEH should be disqualified due to its communications with Activision Blizzard employees regarding their rights to outside counsel. The company alleges that the DFEH warned employees against seeking their own lawyers, in favor of cooperation with the DFEH’s own investigation.
With two alleged ethics violations under his belt, both of which could disqualify the agency if the judge grants a stay of proceedings, things are not looking good for the DFEH. In fact, this may be his worst case scenario. This could shred the DFEH case and in so doing allow Activision-Blizzard to emerge from this nightmare with little more than a meager settlement. And, what many might suggest, would be a complete lack of justice for its employees.