Activision Blizzard has filed a motion to delay a discrimination lawsuit brought by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (or DFEH) so that it may examine accusations that DFEH lawyers participated in ethical misconduct.
According to the application, the DFEH is being represented in the lawsuit by lawyers who previously worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or EEOC), a federal body that examines workplace abuse complaints.
A lawyer who has previously served as a public official or employee of the government […] must not otherwise represent a client in connection with an issue in which the lawyer engaged directly and substantially as a public official or employee, according to the application.
The motion essentially claims that DFEH lawyers should be barred from participating in this action against Activision Blizzard because they previously worked on a similar issue against the firm when working by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The EEOC recently resolved another discrimination case brought by Activision Blizzard for $18 million. The DFEH is attempting to prevent the settlement, and it was the EEOC that raised ethical issues about DFEH attorneys (perhaps to maintain its win).
“The EEOC claims that two of the DFEH attorneys who have appeared in this case (and who now ‘play leadership roles within the [DFEH]’) ‘previously served as EEOC [REDACTED],’ during which time they ‘helped to direct the EEOC’s investigation’ against Activision Blizzard,” according to the application.
Activision Blizzard argues the lawsuit might be in severe jeopardy if the court sustains the stay and finds that DFEH lawyers did breach conflict of interest regulations. “Violation of these standards might result in the disqualification not just of the two attorneys at issue, but of the whole group of DFEH attorneys with whom they have worked,” according to the company’s submission. It also puts into doubt the underlying investigation’s credibility.”
This comes after Blizzard stated that 20 workers had “exited” the business as a result of harassment investigations, and that another 20 had been punished. Some Blizzard employees have continued to push for a more equal workplace in the months since the cases were made public, demanding that the firm cease compulsory arbitration and offer greater pay transparency.
The EEOC and the DFEH did not immediately reply to demands for comment, and neither the DFEH nor the EEOC have had the opportunity to contest Activision Blizzard’s assertions in court: neither has filed a response to this motion.
“We look forward to settling the issue with the DFEH fairly in an appropriate court,” a Blizzard representative says of the submissions. We share the EEOC and DFEH’s aim of a safe, inclusive workplace where employees are fairly compensated, and we are committed to eliminating harassment and discrimination in our workplace.”
On October 20th, a hearing will be held on the application.