Activision-Blizzard's lawsuit appeal rejected by court

The company tried leveraging the ethics violation committed by two DFEH lawyers, revealed by the EEOC in an attempt at a quick getaway.


We all saw this coming - after a recent spat between the Department for Employment and Housing and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission surrounding their concurrent lawsuits against Activision-Blizzard revealed ethics violations on the part of the former, the company tried using this to wiggle out of the entire situation. Luckily, the court was having none of it.

LA County judge Timothy Patrick Dillon recently rejected Activision-Blizzard's appeal to stay the lawsuit, without any explanation given. The decision was given quite swiftly after the company pounced on the opportunity that seemed like a chance to have the lawsuit dismissed due to the actions of two DFEH lawyers.

QUICKTAKE: View the short-form version of this article or scroll to keep reading.

The ethics violation in question came to light after the EEOC filed its own lawsuit against the company while the DFEH's sexual harassment lawsuit was on-going. Activision-Blizzard immediately went for a $18 million settlement with the EEOC, intent on avoiding a two front war, which the federal agency accepted. The issue was that as part of the settlement, the company would be allowed to destroy evidence - evidence potentially important to the DFEH case as well.

When the DFEH objected to this and tried to block the settlement legally, the two agencies found themselves at an impasse - this is when the EEOC rolled out proof of a conflict of interest, seeing as the DFEH investigation was led by two lawyers who previously worked for the EEOC; more importantly they directly worked on the Activision-Blizzard settlement that they now opposed.

MORE:  Bobby Kotick subpoenaed as federal investigation is launched into Activision Blizzard

This clear and severe ethics violation ensured that the settlement went through unimpeded, and jeopardized the entire DFEH lawsuit. While such violations are serious matters and should not be taken lightly, the actions and mistakes of two individuals also shouldn't mean that a company gets away with a laundry list of offenses like Activision-Blizzard appears to have committed - luckily the court agrees.

This year has been defined by the DFEH lawsuit for Activision-Blizzard.

Even though this first attempt to use the ethics violations committed by two now-removed lawyers didn't work out, it is clear that Activision-Blizzard will be rolling it out again and again to torpedo the DFEH lawsuit in any way it can. After months of controversy, walkouts, criticism and mounting charges including the destruction of evidence (before the EEOC settlement made it legal), this is the exact kind of loophole the company needed to dodge responsibility.

Hopefully this initial rejection sets a precedent and shows the Activision-Blizzard legal team that this isn't a boss fight that can be cheesed, but there's likely only so many times the court can reject appeals based on these ethics violations without explanation. The pressure of the DFEH lawsuit and surrounding controversy has led to over 20 offending employees leaving or being terminated, so some results have already been had, but it would be a shame if the company as a whole would get away.

Aron Gerencser
Gaming at least as long as he's been walking, Aron is a fan of all things sci-fi and lover of RPGs. Having written about games for years, he's right at home reporting most of the breaking news in the industry and covering the happenings of the e-sports world. When not writing, editing or playing, you can find Aron on Facebook.