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Activision Blizzard want harassment lawsuit paused over conflict of interest

After it was revealed two lawyers allegedly worked on multiple legal cases against them

Activision Blizzard have filed an application to halt the harassment and discrimination lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). This follows an update on the suit last week, which revealed that two DFEH lawyers previously worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), who're also going through legal proceedings with Actiblizzard, creating a conflict of interest. Now the Call Of Duty and World Of Warcraft publishers want the DFEH's case to be paused so they can investigate, and decide whether they want to try and get the case disqualified, or find "other appropriate remedies".

The conflict of interest came to light after the DFEH objected to the EEOC's proposed settlement with Activision Blizzard, which would see them create an $18 million claims fund for employees who experienced harm from "sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and/or related retaliation". The EEOC objected to that objection, saying that two of the leading lawyers on the DFEH case previously worked for the EEOC, and were involved in the investigation that led to the settlement they're trying to stop.

Activision Blizzard have now caught onto this, and filed an application (which you can read in full on The Verge) to suspend the DFEH's case so they can look into this alleged ethics violation.

By working on both investigations, the company claims the lawyers have potentially violated California law, which "prohibits attorneys for a governmental party to provide advice to an unrepresented party whose interests may conflict with the government client’s". As such, Activision Blizzard argue that they should no longer be allowed to work on the DFEH's case.

This could have big implications for the rest of the lawyers working on the lawsuit too, because the filing also says: "Violation of these rules could lead to the disqualification not only of the two attorneys at issue, but of the entire group of DFEH attorneys with whom they have worked."

They further question the integrity of the DFEH's entire investigation, and claim the billion dollar gaming megacorp will suffer "irreparable harm" if not given the opportunity to look into this further, and decide whether or not the case should be thrown out.

The DFEH filed their lawsuit back in July, after a two-year investigation into Activision Blizzard revealed an alleged culture of sexual harassment, discrimination, unequal pay, retaliation, and more besides. A wave of new allegations and legal cases against the company followed, including other US government agencies launching their own investigations, and a union filing charges of unfair labour practices. That same union have also filed an objection to the EEOC's proposed settlement. Even if the DFEH's lawsuit is paused, Activision Blizzard have plenty more to contend with.

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About the Author
Imogen Beckhelling avatar

Imogen Beckhelling


Imogen is a lore enthusiast and lover of all the fun shenanigans game communities get up to. She spends too much time playing Overwatch, and not enough time having interests that aren't to do with video games.

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