California DFEH appeals judge’s denial of intervention in Activision Blizzard’s EEOC settlement


As 2022 begins, Activision Blizzard is trying to put a year of scandal behind it as it begins to fulfill its settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is doing everything it can to see that settlement does not occur.

Last September, Blizzard agreed to a settlement with the EEOC that included an $18 million victim relief fund and measures to stop the harassment and end the toxic workplace culture. Even before the settlement, CEO Bobby Kotick began making changes to the company to address the issues raised by the EEOC and others.

Less than a month after the ruling, the DFEH filed to intervene in the settlement, saying that the consent decree would release Activision Blizzard from its ongoing lawsuit and potentially open the door for the company to destroy evidence that the DFEH could use in its case. It maintained that intervention is necessary for “protecting the interests” of California workers, commenting on the consent decree, and requesting a fairness hearing.

District Judge Dale S Fischer disagreed with the DFEH’s argument and denied the motion in December. Judge Fischer ruled that the department was not an interested party in the consent decree. He said the scope of its argument would have allowed the DFEH to “intervene in almost any employment action in California.” Fischer also wrote in his opinion that its assertion that Activision Blizzard would be free to destroy evidence was speculatory “at best.” On Friday, the DFEH filed its intention to appeal Judge Fischer’s order denying its motion to intervene (above).

Activision Blizzard has seen no end to the controversy raised by the workplace scandal. Employees and others have called for CEO Bobby Kotick’s resignation, and many of the company’s long-running partnerships are strained. The negative sentiment has even bled into seemingly unrelated incidents, such as the company’s decision to lay off several temporary QA employees at its Raven Software studio. So far, the board of directors has stood behind Kotick, allowing him to work through the negative press and litigation at a reduced salary.