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DFEH Intervention Denied - $18 Million Activision-EEOC Settlement Pending
14/12/2021 à 00:02
In a remote hearing earlier today, Judge Dale S. Fischer of the United States District Court for the Central District of California said that she would not allow the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to intervene in Activision Blizzard's $18 million settlement with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, calling it inappropriate and scolding both agencies for their public disputes over the last several months. As
reported by Bloomberg Law
, this ruling will block the DFEH from formally joining the case, however the settlement itself is still pending approval by the court.
$18 Million EEOC SettlementDFEH Files InterventionExpedited Request Denied
As this was only a hearing, a formal ruling has yet to be made, although an
Association of Business Trial Lawyers interview
with the judge revealed that she frequently provides this type of tentative oral ruling and has rarely been convinced to change her mind - doing so fewer than ten times since her appointment to the court in 2003. The interview also revealed that the judge advises against
, observing that they are routinely filed for non-emergency purposes and are usually a waste of time.
... the judge told the parties, “It’s highly unlikely that I would change my mind and allow the DFEH to intervene.”
Another thing Judge Fischer has little time for is bickering between attorneys, which we saw in grand fashion as the DFEH and EEOC filed
conflict of interest
. From the same interview, "Judge Fischer states that too many attorneys engage in hyperbole and make baseless accusations. It is unacceptable for attorneys to vilify each other or the parties. Criticisms of the conduct of opposing counsel or parties should be made only when necessary to the proper representation of the client and should be supported by evidence." This insight certainly appears to explain why the judge was critical of both agencies in Monday's hearing, suggesting that justice for the employees has been undermined by jurisdictional squabbling:
“This is a bit unseemly,” Fischer told the agencies. “I feel like I should send the two of you to a mediator, never mind Activision getting involved in this.”
“You apparently have been working well together for a very long time, and you’ll have to be working well together in the future,” Fischer said. “It seems like not only the defendant but also some of these employees and former employees are going to get caught in the middle here and that’s not appropriate.”
The judge wasn't unsympathetic however, stating that there was ambiguity as to how the proposed settlement might impact California's separate case against Activision Blizzard, and asked that revised clarifications be submitted in January, following which the DFEH will have another 14 days to submit their own comments before a final judgement is rendered. Therefore, Judge Fischer may not necessarily approve of the settlement, whose $18 million figure has received criticism for a company which
generated $8 billion in revenue last year
, though she seemed skeptical that the settlement would hurt any other prosecution of the case.
"Individuals have the right to settle a case at any time with anyone, and they don't need you, they don't need the EEOC," the judge said. "They can walk into Activision tomorrow without any attorney and settle a case with Activision, which is in my legal experience true."
“The fact that this particular decree is consistent with others doesn’t necessarily mean that in this case, I’m going to approve it,” she said.
“I may have a hearing and I may not,” Fischer told the DFEH about the consent decree. “If I like the way the consent decree looks and I want to sign it, I’m going to sign it.”
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