Activision-Blizzard requests venue change and pause in DFEH lawsuit, says it’s fired 20 people for misconduct

    
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It knows you sinned.

In the course of our coverage of the Activision-Blizzard sexual harassment and discrimination scandal and the ensuing legal battle, we’ve noted that multiple state and federal agencies have been attempting to get a piece of the Activision-Blizzard pie – to the point that they’re now fighting among themselves. The agency behind the original suit, the Californa Department of Fair Employment and Housing, objected to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s plan to settle with Blizzard for the relatively low sum of $18M dedicated to a compensation fund.

Then, earlier this month, the EEOC filed its opposition to that objection, claiming ethics violations on the part of the DFEH, as apparently two of the lawyers working for the DFEH had originally been part of the EEOC’s federal case and should have been barred from working on equivalent cases elsewhere under the California Rules of Professional Conduct. As we argued, it was difficult to see which victims were actually being helped by this particular squabble, as it seemed the only victor would be Activision-Blizzard.

And we were right, as now Activision-Blizzard has filed its own request to effectively pause the proceedings in the DFEH case in order for its attorneys to investigate the EEOC’s claim of ethics violations. Activision-Blizzard had also joined the DFEH in its request to move venues to a court better able to handle the “complex” situation, but then it took the opportunity to accuse the DFEH of destroying evidence, which is exactly what the DFEH has been maintaining about Blizzard.

So as Activision-Blizzard deflects and demurs, are things getting any better inside the company itself? Well, Activision would like you to think so, as it sent Chief Compliance Officer Fran Townsend to sit for an interview with the Financial Times. Townsend claims that the company as thus far fired 20 people for misconduct and another 20 more face discipline, which stacks up with public reporting and also seems odd coming from the same executive who initially denounced the accusations as meritless and was chased off Twitter for chastising whistleblowers.

Her discussion with FT is quite different, however. “It doesn’t matter what your rank is, what your job is,” he says. “If you’ve committed some sort of misconduct or you’re a leader who has tolerated a culture that is not consistent with our values, we’re going to take action.” We assume this policy does not apply to CEO Bobby Kotick himself, as he himself has been party to a sexual harassment lawsuit in the past.

To date, Activision-Blizzard has neither acknowledged nor addressed its workers’ specific demands to improve the company; instead, it contracted a known union-busting firm. In addition to the California lawsuit and EEOC settlement, Blizzard is still subject to a National Labor Relations Board lawsuit and the SEC investigation.

The whole saga:

Source: GIbiz, FT via VG247
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Bruno Brito

Townsend claims that the company as thus far fired 20 people for misconduct and another 20 more face discipline, which stacks up with public reporting and also seems odd coming from the same executive who initially denounced the accusations as meritless and was chased off Twitter for chastising whistleblowers.

I dream of the day that this woman gets bombarded by explosive sardines. The mere fact that people like these exist is a mistake of universal proportions.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

You almost get the sense that Blizzard isn’t really serious about fixing its problems.

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Utakata

…well not the ones it can get away with that are outside the public fishbowl. /sigh

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Andrew Clear

Of course not, because we live in an age where people don’t believe they are responsible for anything they do…it is always someone or something else’s fault.

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McGuffn

it’s worse than that. they claim the problems were well in the past but there’s also a report that they shitcanned 20 people recently because of it lol.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

They do not seem very adept at managing the whole conflicting lies issue they have created.

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Josh

The only thing Blizzard is serious about is getting off the front page.

The moment the serious reporting in them stops so will any and all progress to even pretend they’re trying to make things “better”

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Bruno Brito

Almost.

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TomTurtle

Acti-Blizz continues to put on a show while acting shitty otherwise. I can only imagine how frustrated the victims are in all this. They deserve better.

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Armsman

So I guess the fact that Fran Townsend, who supported the torture of prisoners under a previous U.S. Presidential Administration, still has a job at Activision Blizzard means that those values are consistent with the company’s current corporate culture; not to mention the gaslighting of the employees who dared to come forward and talk/testify about the situation that she did at the start of this debacle.

And I’m sure Bobby Kotick will get another big bonus after all this is settled for 18 million dollars. And wow they fired a whole 20 people for misconduct – (and of course don’t forget Bobby’s big bonus after laying off 800 employees twice during a time of record profits to begin with…)

Yep it’s clearly obvious to all that Activision Blizzard has changed their ways…oh, wait

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Arktouros

No.

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Arktouros

That’s a very wonderful and heartfelt appeal towards maturity and compassion for human decency.

The answer is still No.

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Josh

Any “fellow man” that gleefully supported that wannabe fascist sexist bigoted pig deserves the treatment.

And no, until said bigot is no longer a clear and present danger, we will not “just stop with the hate”

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Arktouros

Really funny how you guys question the EEOC when casual Google searches indicate that when they get involved that people tend to get more money from settling these kinds of issues. Of course that implies you even took the time to look up the average settlement or payouts for discrimination cases or sexual harassment cases which on average seem to be around 40-50k with being able to get more in court but court cases have a much higher chance of failure. But hey, the company made 8 billion dollars last year lets just arbitrarily say it’s relative to that rather than decades of court cases and settlements for these kinds of matters.

DFEH has no one but itself to blame for Blizzard’s motion. Not only did they try to disrupt a settlement with the EEOC that would actually help and get restitution for victims quicker but they went hard against Blizzard. Most of Blizzard’s objections if you read them are that the DFEH’s portrayal no longer accurately portrays Blizzard of today not outright denial anything happened.

My tinfoil theory on this one is the DFEH was doing an investigation and so was the EEOC and when the EEOC employees went over to work for the DFEH they likely told them that the EEOC was going to settle. ActiBlizz was likely playing “who can reach the bottom first” on a settlement with both organizations and the DFEH lost and instead pushed forward with a court case despite knowing the EEOC settlement was looming. The big question I have at this point is what started first and why was there zero communication between these agencies? DFEH investigation reportedly went on for two years which is a ton of time for no communication. Kinda wild when you think about it.

If you want your employer to listen to your demands for the workplace and improvements for it then you need to unionize. An employer can’t stop you from unionizing. They don’t have to listen to “proto unions” (because they’re not a thing) or a group of workers or the overflowing suggestion box in the lunchroom. If you want to make demands, then unionize. If you can’t unionize because enough people have no interest in it for whatever reasons then there’s not much you can do about it but quit. That’s how things work.

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Andrew Clear

You want tin foil theory, how about this. The EEOC was doing it’s work, and then the DFEH started looking into it. Then, Acti-Blizz did a nice back door payment, or campaign contribution to someone, and the DFEH put employees on the investigation in a means to get it was getting dropped due to ignorance instead of corruption….

Now, that is tin foil.

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Arktouros

I’m generally curious about these things so I went over to watch some Hoeg Law videos on the matter (because he generally breaks down things from a Lawyer’s perspective) and I gotta say reading some of the actual details in some of the legal complaints is pretty crazy.

Like there’s a whole section talking about how the people at the DFEH actually were privy to information while working at the EEOC and then potentially brought that over to be worked upon extensively by that person in the DFEH. Apparently the amount listed there (four depositions, six sets of discovery, etc) all take a lot of time which means the EEOC’s case wasn’t like just randomly opened up to swoop in and take credit for the DFEH’s work or something they actually had a case for long enough time that employee could switch and do all that work while at the DFEH. This explains to me why the DFEH wouldn’t communicate/work with the EEOC if most of it’s case is based on the work the former employees did while under the EEOC.

Then in another entirely unmentioned section in the article above ActiBlizz complains against DFEH recommending to not seek individual counsel goes against the California Governing codes on these types of cases. They’re basically supposed to recommend you seek individual counsel and then decide what’s best for them (stick it out with DFEH, take the EEOC Consent agreement, file their own suit, etc etc etc).

Honestly more we hear about the actual details of the DFEH investigation in relation to the others via these kinds of lawsuits the more the DFEH comes off like the one meddling here and not the EEOC. So really my tinfoil was off pretty good margin.

Fisty
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Fisty

That woman is evil.

Grimalkin
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Grimalkin

It’s full of hypocrites not only in Blizzard’s dev teams.