Lawyers For California's DFEH Could Be Violating Ethics In Activision Blizzard Legal Battle

It appears 2 DFEH lawyers were previously part of the EEOC's investigation into the gaming giant.

Michael Byrne
By Michael Byrne, Editor-in-Chief October 11, 2021
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Legal actions are messy. Governments fighting corporate parties can be even messier. What really makes things messy is when government employees move from one organization to another...both of which may be investigating the same entity. As GamesIndustry.Biz reports, this could be the case in California's DFEH case against Activision Blizzard.

To catch you up, The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) recently settled with Activision Blizzard for $18 million after a lengthy investigation into the company's practices. California's DFEH (Department of Fair Employment and Housing), which is currently embroiled in its own investigation and filing against Activision Blizzard, is contesting that settlement claiming, among other things, that it infringes on some of the aspects of their own case and could make their investigation more challenging.

So...where's the violation? Well, in response to the DFEH's filing against the EEOC ruling, the EEOC filed documents claiming that two lawyers in leadership positions for the DFEH actually worked for the EEOC previously and were, in fact, part of the EEOC's investigation into Activision Blizzard. You see, it all comes down to timing.

While the DFEH DID seek and bring on new counsel to file this motion against the EEOC settlement, the EEOC is bothered by the timing. They allege that the two attorneys in question had to have played a part in the motion since the motion was filed within hours and, the EEOC claims, the new council couldn't have been brought up to speed that quickly.

This would, if true, be both a conflict of interest and a violation of legal ethics as you cannot be part of an investigation and filing, and then also represent a party opposed to that same investigation and filing. The EEOC filing even states that when questioned about this potential conflict of interest on a conference call, the 2 DFEH lawyers in question disconnected from the call.

The EEOC states that "There can be no claim that there was timely 'isolation of [these] lawyer[s] from any participation' in representing DFEH in connection with the intervention proceedings, as would be necessary to show that timely screening took place. Thus, all DFEH attorneys were and should remain barred from representing DFEH in this matter."

We'll have to wait and see if this has any impact on either filing, but I certainly wouldn't enjoy being the judge assigned either of these cases at the moment.

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About the Author

Michael Byrne
Michael Byrne, Editor-in-Chief
Mike “Magicman” Byrne has been a part of the MMOBomb family for years and serves as the site’s current Editor-in-Chief. His love for MMOs and gaming in general has led him to covering games for numerous websites including Gamebreaker TV and XIV Nation where he proudly displays his fanboy flag for FFXIV:ARR.

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