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The Activision Blizzard Case Just Got Way More Complicated

What if a company could just pause all of the controversy surrounding it? That's exactly what Activision Blizzard is attempting to do with a new filing in Activision Blizzard's ongoing legal battle. Activision's shady side has been a topic of discussion for years in the gaming industry, but the company's allegedly unethical practices were brought to light in a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard back in July. The case alleges that the publishers housed a "toxic work environment," filled to the brim with allegations ranging from workplace drinking to sexual assault. Just a month later, the lawsuits kept piling up for Activision Blizzard, this time in the form of a new case from the company's investors.

Needless to say, Activision Blizzard has been in a state of disarray since the allegations came to light. If recent news of the legal proceedings is any indication, the situation is only going to get more complicated, with Activision recently attempting to pause the lawsuit due to what the company deems to be a "conflict of interest" on behalf of the prosecution. The company has also reportedly parted ways with over 20 employees due to their alleged role in workplace harassment. 

Activision has filed a motion to pause the harassment suit due to conflict of interest

Among the many suits Activision Blizzard faces, two of them are spearheaded by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Last week, Activision Blizzard and the EEOC came to an $18 million settlement agreement that would be paid out via a claims fund. While Activision maintains that the settlement is not an admission of guilt, the DFEH has attempted to block this settlement, saying that it would hurt the agency's lawsuit.

In light of this development, Activision Blizzard filed a misconduct claim against two of the DFEH's lawyers due to their involvement in a previous EEOC lawsuit against the company, creating a "conflict of interest" and creating a scenario in which the entire harassment case could be thrown out of court, according to The Verge. Official court documents published by The Verge show that Activision Blizzard claimed that the DFEH is in violation of the California State Bar's conflict of interest rules, which state "a lawyer who has formerly served as a public official or employee of the government [...] shall not otherwise represent a client in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public official or employee." 

To make matters worse for the DFEH, the EEOC seems to have been the ones who initially raised ethical concerns pertaining to the agency blocking its settlement agreement, adversely affecting what the agency considers to be a legal victory, according to The Verge. This news comes on the heels of Activision Blizzard's chief compliance officer, Frances Townsend, telling the Financial Times that they had parted ways with over "20 employees" in the wake of the harassment allegations.