Activision Blizzard discrimination case shouldn’t halt over agency feud, California argues in new court filing

The Verge - Wed Oct 20 20:51

After Activision Blizzard requested a stay in the discrimination case brought against it by the state of California, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has filed its response.

Activision Blizzard’s request for a stay asserts that lawyers with the DFEH engaged in misconduct arising from a conflict of interest. According to the filing, some of the lawyers working on the case had previously worked on a separate case against the company when they were employed by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or EEOC). Such an arrangement, Activision Blizzard argues, is in violation of a California state bar conflict of interest rule. As a result, the discrimination case should be put on hold until the conflict is settled.

Today in the superior court of California, the DFEH filed its response: “Activision hopes to conjure a scandal from these mundane facts, based on an aggressive misreading of California Rules of Professional Conduct.” Both the objection and DFEH’s response are only arguments, and have no legal force without a ruling from the court.

The DFEH argues that the two lawyers in question had little involvement in the EEOC’s investigation of Activision Blizzard during their time there. Even if there were a conflict, the filing continues, the lawyers in question have already been taken off the case and the DFEH is being represented in this case by an outside law firm.

Activision Blizzard’s objection arises from a conflict between the two employment agencies that have filed suit against the company. Earlier this month, EEOC brought the alleged conflict of interest to light after the DFEH tried to intervene in the $18 million dollar settlement between the EEOC and Activision Blizzard.

The DFEH argues that the settlement is premature and that the EEOC did not investigate the matter properly before providing Activision Blizzard with the option to settle. Furthermore, the DFEH claims interference was necessary because the settlement between Activision Blizzard and the EEOC which, again, is a federal agency, could protect it from litigation already filed on behalf of the state — in this case the DFEH.

The EEOC told The Verge it has no comment beyond its filings and the DFEH says it cannot comment on an open case. In a report from The Washington Post, a former Blizzard employee says the matter “feels incredibly bad all over.”