Law Firm That ‘Oversaw’ Reginald Investigation at TSM Is Also Serving as Defense Attorneys in Wrongful Termination Case
Despite a public statement in late May, the attorney says he did not direct the investigation or impact its findings.
A law firm that claimed to “oversee” an independent investigation at TSM’s parent company, Swift, into the behavior of its top executive, Andy “Reginald” Dinh, simultaneously served as the company’s defense attorneys in a wrongful termination case brought by a former employee in Los Angeles Superior Court in April, according to documents obtained by The Jacob Wolf Report.
The attorney, Matthew Marca, compiled a summary of the investigation published by Dinh in late May in which Marca wrote that a special subcommittee of Swift’s board hired his firm Gutierrez Marca “to advise and oversee the investigation.”
Although Marca’s firm did not personally conduct the investigation, Swift also retained his firm as its primary defense counsel in a wrongful termination suit that a former employee filed in April, nearly a month before Marca’s summary was released. By then, the investigation into Dinh had concluded, but the findings had not yet been released to the public.
Speaking to The Jacob Wolf Report on Friday, Marca and Swift spokesperson Gillian Sheldon clarified his role in the investigation. They said that Marca coordinated between the company, its human resources department and the independent investigator, but he personally did not direct the investigation, nor did his firm provide oversight or impact the investigation’s findings.
The special subcommittee of Swift’s board of directors, formed in November, hired Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based attorney Lynne Davis of Employment Investigation, Mediation and Counseling to conduct the internal investigation. Davis interviewed 31 current and past employees of Swift’s subsidiaries, TSM, Blitz and ICON, and found that while Dinh could deliver work feedback aggressively at times, there had been “no unlawful conduct.”
On March 31, Davis delivered the report to the board’s subcommittee and Marca, who has also advised Swift on employment matters since April 2019.
After that meeting, Marca and his team reviewed Davis’ report, interfaced with Riot Games for its own investigation on TSM’s behalf, and compiled the two-page summary of Davis’ report, which Dinh posted on Twitter, alongside his own statement, on May 27.
Marca told The Jacob Wolf Report on Friday that he did not direct Davis in her investigation and that the board subcommittee gave her “carte blanche.” Marca pointed to his three-year attorney-client relationship with Swift and his deep knowledge of the company as the reasons for his involvement.
“My other involvement was dealing with Riot's attorney,” Marca said. “So then another reason that I was actively engaged, because Riot's attorney was running his own investigation, needed to speak to someone, and they were talking to me as well. So there were two investigations going on, TSM & Swift needed someone that was representing them in the room when Riot's attorney was speaking. The reason there was a delay [between the findings and the summary] was because there were discussions with Riot as to whether we were going to release [both our findings] at the same time.”
Prior to the release of the May 27 statement, Marca also began defending Swift in an employment dispute case brought by former Blitz marketing manager John Nguyen in Los Angeles court on April 27.
In that case, Nguyen alleged that his manager, Blitz marketing director Nick Ward, used marijuana at work and acted in a manner that caused Nguyen “severe” anxiety. Nguyen claims that Swift and Blitz did not provide proper accommodation for his anxiety under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, and that on April 8, a week after Nguyen reported Ward for marijuana use at work, the company terminated Nguyen in retaliation.
The reason provided by Swift’s human resources department for his termination, Nguyen said, was that he had been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace, but he said HR did not provide details of the allegation.
“Nguyen was terminated because he sought a healthier work environment and reported that Ward was using marijuana at work,” Nguyen’s attorney, Arthur Kim, wrote in the complaint. “The use or possession of marijuana is a federal criminal offense. In addition, California has a well-established policy of a drug-free workplace. Nguyen had reasonable cause to believe that his report disclosed a violation of federal, state, or local statute, rule or regulation.”
In a response to Nguyen’s suit filed by Marca, Swift denied the allegation of wrongful termination, stating that Nguyen was an at-will employee and that he engaged in behavior that warranted his firing.
“Defendants would have made the same decisions with respect to Plaintiff’s claims for wrongful termination pursuant to valid business justifications and Defendant would have taken the same employment actions in any event for legitimate, nondiscriminatory, non-retaliatory, and non-pretextual reasons, for among other reasons, multiple female co-workers alleged that Plaintiff engaged in conduct that was sexual in nature and made them feel uncomfortable including having to rebuff multiple requests to go on a date,” Marca wrote in TSM’s legal response to Nguyen’s case.
“My client was terminated for reporting drug use in the workplace by a director,” Kim told The Jacob Wolf Report on Friday. “His employer brought up some vague accusation of sexual harassment, after the fact, to terminate him. My client categorically denies any such accusation.”
“League of Legends” developer Riot Games is still actively conducting an investigation of its own into Dinh’s behavior, which started late last year, according to WIRED.
Interest in Dinh’s treatment of employees started last fall after former TSM star player Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng made a series of statements during his Twitch livestreams about Dinh’s conduct. TSM’s attorneys, ESG Law, sent Peng a cease-and-desist letter in November stating that he was violating non-disparagement and non-disclosure clauses that existed in both his employment and release agreements. Peng retired from professional play in November 2020 and remained with the team as a streamer until November 2021.
Peng’s comments sparked both the internal and Riot investigations into Dinh, the founder of TSM. A former professional “League of Legends” player himself, Dinh is recorded on video earlier in his career yelling at his teammates and players, and at other times getting heated with the press.
Through it all, though, TSM and later Swift have become the most valuable organization in esports, worth approximately $540 million, according to Forbes’ annual esports valuation list released in May.
Part of that success is due to the company’s expansion outside of competitive gaming, such as its early moves into game-related software for “League of Legends” and its later acquisition of Blitz, the software app that assists players with many of Riot Games’ titles.
Commercially, TSM signed the largest publicly-disclosed esports team sponsorship deal in history, a 10-year, $210 million naming rights partnership with cryptocurrency exchange FTX, in June 2021. But like many other teams, the organization is scaling back amid a global economic downturn, laying off more than 20 staffers on June 29, according to a report from former Esports Talk producer and host Hunter Grooms.
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