The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in July, and Activision Blizzard has filed a motion to temporarily halt the proceedings. The publisher is requesting a break in order to gather evidence in connection with a surprising allegation leveled against the DFEH that could give the company an advantage in the case.
The allegation, which was made last week, has nothing to do with the DFEH lawsuit, which alleges that Activision Blizzard has been harboring a culture of sexism and harassment for years. It has to do with the attorneys who filed the lawsuit.
The DFEH lawyers behind California’s suit used to work for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a US federal agency that recently proposed a settlement with Activision Blizzard over similar claims. They actually investigated Activision Blizzard on a federal level before taking up the case again in California, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Activision Blizzard, a publicly traded company with a market capitalization of $60 billion, has not squandered the chance to gain some tactical advantage in the case and has requested to see the evidence cited by the EEOC.
Separately, the publisher of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft wants the case to be labeled “complex.” Ironically, one of the few legal terms that is easy to define is “complex”: Activision Blizzard wants the case moved to a court that’s designed to deal with the most difficult cases.
Apart from the alleged DFEH ethics violation, Activision claims that the California bureau has made other mistakes that have complicated the case, such as destroying evidence. Activision Blizzard has also been accused of destroying information by the DFEH, which has requested that the case be classified as complex.
“We look forward to resolving the case with the DFEH fairly in an appropriate court,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told PC Gamer.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission is also looking into Activision Blizzard’s handling of the July allegations. Fran Townsend, executive VP of corporate affairs, described a vision for workplace improvement in a recent internal email, which the company published today. According to the statement, more than 20 employees have “exited” in recent months as a result of investigations into HR reports, and another 20 have “faced other types of disciplinary action.”
At the time of writing, the DFEH has not responded to a request for comment, but we’ll update this article if the California agency makes a statement.