The DFEH has denied a request from Activision Blizzard to pause an investigation into allegations of ethics violations. The company’s CEO Bobby Kotick is facing scrutiny for alleged comments made during a conference call with analysts in questioning the agency’s mission and purpose.
Activision Blizzard has been under investigation for alleged ethics violations. A request to pause the investigation was denied and Activision is continuing to look into the matter. Read more in detail here: blizzard activision.
Activision Blizzard filed a plea to temporarily halt California’s sexual harassment and discrimination action earlier this week, citing the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s findings of suspected conflict of interest and ethical breaches. The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a judgement Monday, dismissing the company’s request for an accelerated stop in the inquiry but allowing its attorneys to investigate if any such infractions occurred.
Activision Blizzard’s motion was “ex parte,” or an expedited request, asking the courts to pause the DFEH investigation while the company’s lawyers investigated whether the State violated the California Rules of Professional Conduct, similar to the previous DFEH request to intervene against the EEOC’s $18 million settlement. The fundamental contrast between both motions is that an ex parte application requests the court to make a judgment right away based on the facts submitted, rather than waiting for the typical course of events, which might entail extensive debate and counter-argument from both parties. The request for an expedited decision was denied in both the DFEH’s motion to intervene in the EEOC settlement and Activision’s request to temporarily suspend the DFEH investigation, but that doesn’t stop them from looking into the issues – in this case, specifically allowing everyone involved to continue looking into whether the DFEH violated procedural rules by engaging in misrepresentation, but not halting the entire case while they do so.
Activision Blizzard’s application (left) asks for a stay in the DFEH case, putting it on hold while they investigate if any professional conduct violations have occurred. While the court dismissed their motion, it does not restrict them from continuing to pursue the case on their own time. Meanwhile, the DFEH maintains its denial of the EEOC’s claim (right).
This series of events is swiftly devolving into a court fight of “he said/she said,” with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission painting quite different portraits of what’s going on. While it appeared that the EEOC had reached a decisive, if somewhat inexpensive, settlement with Activision Blizzard, the DFEH quickly intervened with a variety of arguments, including claims that the settlement would harm their investigation by directing Activision to destroy evidence of wrongdoing – interestingly, this is the second time the DFEH has made such claims. Although the EEOC clarified that the agreement did not suggest any evidence deletion, they also delivered a bombshell by disclosing that the DFEH hired two former EEOC attorneys who worked on the same case for both sides, which is a severe breach of professional ethics.
The DFEH intervention (left) alleges that the EEOC settlement requires Activision to delete evidence, despite the fact that the EEOC memorandum (right) states that the agreement merely requires certain references to be removed from personnel files, not destroyed.
As expected, the DFEH retaliated by claiming that the two agencies had a workshare agreement and that the EEOC had broken it by sharing confidential information in their objection, and then claiming that the two attorneys in question didn’t actually handle the Activision case and were only minimally involved, implying that no professional or ethical violation had occurred. This, like many of the arguments presented by both sides, is open to interpretation and debate – the DFEH claims that two attorneys worked in the EEOC’s “legal unit” while the case was still being built within the “enforcement unit,” but without knowing the EEOC’s inner workings, whether that means they had no substantive involvement with the case will ultimately be decided by a judge.
In his most recent hour-long video, Michigan attorney Richard Hoeg, who has been following the issue on the Youtube series Virtual Legality, has presented his own expert assessment of the DFEH and EEOC disagreement.
As a consequence of this legal maneuvering, a nightmare forest of argument and counter-argument has emerged, in which both agencies have presented data in novel ways to best support their respective positions. The DFEH understandably does not want to lose sight of Activision, but the outcome of their probe is far from certain and might very well end in a less-than-satisfying verdict. On the other hand, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has already reached a settlement that includes fair compensation for victims (to the extent that federal law allows), as well as extensive regulatory oversight to ensure that the situation does not repeat itself… which may not be as harsh as some would like, but is still a victory. It should come as no surprise that Activision’s attorneys are seeking for a way to avoid the increasingly drawn-out battle and return to the previously agreed-upon settlement. That isn’t to suggest that nothing is being done; Activision Blizzard has already began disclosing information of their own internal investigations, which resulted in disciplinary action and the dismissal of over 40 workers, as well as detailing further company-wide improvements.
We can’t predict where things will go from here, but it seems that as time passes, the case will get further entangled in jurisdictional accusations and counter-arguments. Meanwhile, people who have been victims of sexual harassment and discrimination can only wait and hope that justice will be given soon.
- how much is activision worth
- activision blizzard stock
- blizzard stock