Report: California governor Gavin Newsom allegedly interfered with Activision Blizzard lawsuit
The Activision Blizzard logo. Gavin Newsom allegedly interfered with the Activision Blizzard lawsuit.
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Report: California governor Gavin Newsom allegedly interfered with Activision Blizzard lawsuit

DFEH assistant chief counsel resigns following chief counsel’s dismissal

A lawyer in the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has resigned after alleging that governor Gavin Newsom interfered with the ongoing Activision Blizzard lawsuit, according to a report from Bloomberg.

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Assistant chief counsel Melanie Proctor reportedly emailed her staff on Tuesday to inform them of her resignation. She resigned to protest Newsom’s decision to fire chief counsel Janette Wipper. In addition, Proctor claimed Newsom’s office had interfered with the Activision Blizzard lawsuit in the weeks leading up to her resignation.

“The Office of the Governor repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps in the litigation,” Proctor wrote in her email, according to Bloomberg. “As we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel.”

Wipper and Proctor both withdrew from the Activision Blizzard case on April 5. Previously, the two of them had led the DFEH in a gender discrimination suit against Riot Games, which Riot settled for $100 million in December of 2021.

Newsom’s alleged interference with Activision Blizzard case

Proctor claimed in her email that Wipper was “abruptly terminated” after she “attempted to protect” the independence of the California DFEH. Now, Wipper is considering a claim under the California Whistleblower Protection Act as legal recourse for her termination, according to her spokesperson, Alexis Ronickher.

The lawsuit against Activision Blizzard that Newsom has allegedly interfered with was filed in July of 2021. It accused the company of fostering a “frat boy” culture that enabled gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment.

In March, Activision Blizzard settled a separate federal lawsuit with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $18 million. As part of that settlement, individuals who worked for the company from September 1, 2016, onward can submit sexual harassment, retaliation and pregnancy discrimination claims. However, claimants in the federal lawsuit will waive their right to submit claims on the same issues in the state lawsuit.

Author
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Dylan Tate
Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.