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Activision Asks Court to Toss California State Harassment Claims

May 9, 2022, 10:59 PM

Activision Blizzard Inc. asked a court in Los Angeles on Monday to toss out a lawsuit filed by the state of California accusing the game maker of discrimination and sexual harassment against female employees.

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which sued the game maker in July 2021, failed to fulfill the requirements laid out for it in state law regarding investigations and lawsuits against employers, and therefore the agency’s claims must be dismissed, Activision said in a filing.

The motion for summary adjudication, filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, accuses the DFEH of a “fundamental failure to follow its governing statute in a rush to garner media attention that it hoped would prevent the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from fairly resolving workplace claims for the benefit of eligible claimants.”

After DFEH issues an administrative complaint, law requires it to undertake three steps before filing a lawsuit, Activision told the court. It must fully investigate the claims, meaningfully attempt to negotiate a resolution to those claims, and then work in good faith to mediate a resolution to any unresolved claim.

But DFEH failed to take those steps, Activision said. On June 23 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which settled federal claims with Activision in April, despite protests from the DFEH, informed the state agency that it had concluded its investigation and was prepared to conciliate potential harassment claims.

According to the filing, DFEH issued a notice within a day that it had also concluded its investigation and had reason to file suit against Activision.

“What became a story of unprecedented inter-agency friction and government misconduct began in 2018 as routine and overlapping regulatory investigations by EEOC and DFEH— parallel agencies with similar goals,” Activision’s Monday filing said.

The state agency failed to complete its investigation, failed to conciliate, and denied Activision a pre-filing good faith mediation, the company said.

“In the process, DFEH unfairly damaged the reputation of a company and undermined the public trust,” the filing says.

DFEH did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the motion.

Activision settled the EEOC claims over sexual harassment and discrimination for $18 million.

Paul Hastings represents Activision.

The case is Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. Activision Blizzard Inc., Cal. Super. Ct., No. 21STCV26571, 5/9/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maeve Allsup in San Francisco at mallsup@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

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