California

CASE Union Sues Over CA Outsourcing in Video Game Lawsuit

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A union representing California attorneys has filed a lawsuit against the state board of personnel, challenging the state’s use of outside litigation in its civil rights lawsuit against a video game company.

aseng@sacbee.com

The California Bar Association filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the State Department’s hiring of outside counsel in a high-profile lawsuit against video game companies Riot Games and Activision Blizzard.

The state agency, formerly known as the Fair Employment and Housing Authority, which became the Office of Civil Rights in July, said it had a conflict of interest in both cases over the past four years, according to documents filed Thursday. Claimed to have to hire a company.Lawsuit.

California attorneys, administrative law judges, and state employment hearings have argued that these claims are not upheld. It said it could open the door to rampant outsourcing of jobs in the states it covers.

“This would basically open the floodgates for state agencies to hire outside attorneys at their discretion,” O’Connor said.

California has laws intended to protect state jobs from outsourcing, but there are regular disputes between unions and state departments. They were especially prominent under former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who championed public-private partnerships.

The union filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court against the state personnel commission, saying the commission wrongly approved the outsourcing after the union filed a complaint. and seeks a judge to rule that SPB’s contracts with law firms Olivier Schreiber, Chao, Outten and Golden violate SPB’s agreements.

Camille Travis, a spokeswoman for the State Personnel Commission, declined to comment on pending legal issues.

Equal Pay Litigation in Video Game Company

The Office of Civil Rights filed lawsuits against Riot Games and Activision in 2018 and 2021. The companies claimed they were treating female employees in violation of California’s equal pay and non-discrimination laws.

The division has participated in a class action lawsuit against Riot Games resulting in: December 2021 settlement agreement It awards the company’s female employees $100 million and imposes a consent decree that includes oversight of the company’s hiring and promotion.

The agency also opposes the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s proposed $18 million settlement with Activision Blizzard in March, it said. Division news release.

The Office of Civil Rights hired private law firms in both cases due to separate allegations of conflicts of interest.

In a Riot Games lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the department It was in dispute over the company’s appeal against the discovery order.

The state attorney general’s office usually handles appeals on behalf of state agencies. However, the Office of Civil Rights argued that AG’s involvement in Riot’s appeal was inappropriate. That’s because the AG’s office was on the other side of the Bureau in another case, the Office of Civil Rights’ lawsuit against the Office of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“Get more lawyers”

The Attorney General’s Office can readily take protective action against attorneys in Office of Corrections cases, even if the bar union has a legitimate conflict in that case and in the state board of personnel proceedings that precede it. claimed. Regarding the case of Riot Games.

In Activision Blizzard’s case, several former Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Lawyers began working for the Civil Rights Office. A panel that took a different position from the Justice Department on the Activision settlement argued that the Justice Department’s hiring of a former attorney constituted a conflict.

Suzanne Ambrose, Executive Director of the State Human Resources Commission, and the Board as a whole after the appeal, said that under California law, the state’s attorneys are less likely to dispute disputes than private law firms. determined that it constitutes a valid reason to outsource the work. .

CASE representative O’Connor said unions approved the outsourcing decision if they agreed there was a legitimate conflict. But he said legal outsourcing, which is usually much more expensive than paying a state attorney, has become all too common.

“Millions of dollars are spent on outside attorneys when we believe our members have the skills to do the job,” said O’Connor. . “And if a particular agency does not have sufficient legal power, we will hire more lawyers.”

This story was originally published November 10, 2022 at 12:41 PM.

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Wes Venteicher anchors The Bee’s popular State Worker article in the newspaper Capitol. He is responsible for taxes, pensions, unions, state spending, and the California government. The Montana native reported on healthcare and politics in Chicago and Pittsburgh before joining his The Bee in 2018.



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