California governor Gavin Newsom accused of meddling in Activision Blizzard lawsuit

A lawyer at California's DFEH has resigned in protest of governor Gavin Newsom's alleged interference, which she says is "mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel"

A leading lawyer at California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has resigned, and has accused California governor Gavin Newsom and his office of meddling in a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard.

On Tuesday (April 12), Melanie Proctor, assistant chief counsel at California’s DFEH, resigned.

In an email (thanks, Bloomberg), Proctor said her resignation was in protest of her boss – chief counsel Janette Wipper – being fired by California governor Gavin Newsom.

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Proctor alleged that in recent weeks, Newsom and his office “began to interfere” with the DFEH’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard.

“The office of the governor repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps in the litigation,” said Proctor, who also alleged that “as we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel.”

Activision Blizzard HQ
Credit: Activision Blizzard

Proctor added that Wipper had “attempted to protect” the DFEH’s independence, which she claims resulted in her being “abruptly terminated”.

The lawyer said her own resignation is “in protest of the interference and Janette’s termination,” and went on to say that “justice should be administered equally, not favouring those with political influence.”

A spokesperson for Newsom has responded, stating “claims of interference by our office are categorically false”.

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A spokesperson for Wipper has also commented, claiming the lawyer is “evaluating all avenues of legal recourse,” over her termination, including “a claim under the California Whistleblower Protection Act”.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. Image credit: Getty Images
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. Image credit: Getty Images

Though Activision Blizzard recently settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for £13.7million, the company’s lawsuit with the DFEH continues.

The DFEH lawsuit alleges that Activision Blizzard has cultivated a “frat boy workplace culture” where women are “subject to numerous sexual comments and advances, groping and unwanted physical touching, and other forms of harassment”.

In response, the company has since removed over 36 employees over misconduct allegations and CEO Bobby Kotick says Activision Blizzard has “made significant progress ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees.”

In other news, Sony and Nintendo have changed their subscription renewal policy following  an investigation by the UK’s Competition And Markets Authority.

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