The lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard by the California Office of Fair Working Conditions (DFEH) is in jeopardy. It is undermined by a new finding by the EEOC, which itself sued Activision in a further trial and subsequently agreed to an out-of-court settlement. Under it, Activision Blizzard has pledged to create a $ 18 million financial fund to compensate employees who have been the target of unacceptable workplace behavior. However, by resolving the dispute with the EEOC, Activision can dispose of documents that DFEH considers important to its lawsuit, and the California Fair Working Conditions Office has filed an objection to out-of-court settlement, requesting that the dispute be suspended until the first lawsuit is resolved. However, the EEOC does not agree and, what is more, brings to light serious evidence of a conflict of interest, which may result not only in the rejection of the appeal, but also in the definitive termination of the dispute with Activision.
The two lawyers in question had been directly confronted by the EEOC about this conflict of interest prior to these latest legal documents. When this happened, the lawyers simply left the call. https://t.co/mmmxMBrDtI
— PC Gamer (@pcgamer) October 11, 2021
The two leading lawyers in the DFEH lawsuit, who previously also worked for the EEOC and specifically investigated Activision Blizzard before the two parties reached an agreement on the described settlement of $ 18 million last week, are in conflict of interest. The document, which presents information about the conflict of interest, was noticed by the editors of PC Gamer, who further explain that if the conflict is proven, it will be a violation of legal ethics and rules of professional conduct. In addition, the EEOC claims that, if a conflict of interest has arisen, it will automatically apply to all DFEH lawyers in the Activision lawsuit, which could significantly disrupt the dispute. It is also striking that, according to the published memorandum, the California authority became aware of the conflict of interest and tried to hire new lawyers. However, DFEH filed an objection to the decision in the EEOC v. Activision dispute only a few hours after new lawyers involved and, according to the federal commission, would therefore not be enough to draft such a document. “For this reason, the intervention proposal should be rejected and DFEH lawyers should be prohibited from providing work to a new lawyer or radio operator in connection with this intervention procedure,” he said in an EEOC memorandum.
Lawyer Richard Hoeg described the development as highly worrying and confirmed that it could provide Activision with its own defense against the original lawsuit.
It further states that the two lawyers concerned were confronted with information on the conflict of interest before the EEOC published that information, by means of a video call in which the planned objection was to be discussed. “DFEH’s lawyer started talking about the nature of the intervention, but Mrs. Parková [z EEOC] reiterated its objections concerning the conflict of interest. Subsequently, the EEOC lawyer began to analyze them, after which both DFEH lawyers disconnected from the call, “claims the published document. This certainly does not contribute to the speedy resolution of the case, and on the other hand, Activision may have come to arguments on the basis of which it can have the ongoing resolution of the lawsuit by DFEH terminated in its favor. This is also suggested by the lawyer Andrew Torrez, who was addressed by the editors of PC Gamer: “If the facts are as they appear, the entire DFEH investigation may violate section 1.11, letter and, paragraph 2 of the California Law, which expressly prohibits former government employees from representing a client in connection with a matter in which the lawyer personally and significantly participated as a public official or employee. ‘
However, this is exactly what is happening in the DFEH v. Activision dispute, and unless the California authority proves that the lawyers in question did not receive written permission from the EEOC – which would be the only way to circumvent the above law – then the dispute with Activision was illegal. Attorney Richard Hoeg also described the development as highly worrying and confirmed that it could provide Activision with its own defense against the original lawsuit.