Judge turns down Activision's request to pause California sexual harassment lawsuit over...

Daniel Sims

Posts: 757   +29
What just happened? According to a Los Angeles judge last week, the California lawsuit against Activision Blizzard won't be paused. Activision requested the pause in order to look into reported ethics violations by lawyers investigating the company. The judge didn't give a reason for denying Activision's request.

Activision Blizzard has been under investigation by multiple groups in the US in recent months for sexual harassment and discrimination against its female employees. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) opened a lawsuit against the company in July, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a complaint in September, after which Activision settled with the latter for $18 million.

The DFEH objected to that settlement, claiming it would damage its own case against Activision Blizzard by releasing the game company from certain claims under California state law and potentially allowing it to destroy evidence the DFEH case needs. In response, the EEOC revealed that lawyers investigating Activision Blizzard for the DFEH had in fact previously been investigating the same company for the EEOC, and used information from their EEOC investigation in their DFEH investigation, which would be in violation of the California Rule of Professional Conduct.

This is what caused Activision to request the DFEH lawsuit be paused. According to Law360, via gamesindustry.biz, Los Angeles Judge Timothy Patrick Dillon denied the request within a week without elaborating on why. The DFEH then criticized Activision's motion as "baseless."

Activision Blizzard has also been under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and received a complaint from Communication Workers of America (CWA) due to the same allegations. Since the lawsuit started, at least 20 employees have left Blizzard, including the company's former president, its chief legal officer, and multiple game designers.

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Posts: 414   +381
It's extremely common to see large corporations try to use any method to get oversight commissions off their back.

A very common tactic is to use press releases to advance their view. They know that regulatory bodies, just like District Attorneys, almost never make public statements about ongoing investigations. Even at the highest levels of government (think DOJ or FBI): They essentially never make statements about a case until it is finished.

This seems like Activision simply using PR in bad faith (and hoping to get media articles out of it). And that would be a smart move on their part if they don't want bad things to come out by having sexual harassment cases continue. The judge almost certainly had a reason and, in almost all courts, no reason is actually necessary for a ruling (it's why an "order" is final but a "decision" simply explains the "order").