California governor Gavin Newsom is accused of interfering in Activision lawsuit, a new report following news that Activision Blizzard is settling one of their numerous lawsuits.
The new report (via Bloomberg) that California governor Gavin Newsom is accused of interfering in Activision lawsuit suggests California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) lost their two main lawyers, due to Newsom interfering in the lawsuit.
The report suggests Newsom used the power as state governor to fire the chief counsel from the DFEH, and its assistant chief counsel resigned in protest. The assistant claims the governor has been actively interfering in the lawsuit.
Specifically, chief counsel Janette Wipper and assistant chief counsel Melanie Proctor both stepped down from the hotly contested lawsuit on April 5th. Wipper was fired afterwards, to which Proctor resigned in protest amidst the new allegations.
The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed back in July of last year – it alleges Activision Blizzard hosted a “frat boy” culture and there was rampant sexual harassment, discrimination, and even allegations of abuse from male to female workers.
Proctor sent an email to DFEH employees alleging Newsom “began to interfere” with the lawsuit, “repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps in the litigation.”
The demands reportedly became more common as the DFEH began to win in the state court, to which Proctor alleges “mimick[ed] the interests of Activision’s counsel.” Wipper purportedly tried to “protect the agency’s independence” before being fired. After this Proctor resigned in protest.
Wipper’s spokesperson said the former chief counsel is seeking legal recourse, including a new claim under the California Whistleblower Protection Act. Since the report was published, Newsom’s office issued a statement dismissing the allegations as “categorically false.”
DFEH director Kevin Kish sent a statement following that saying they have the “full support of the administration” and that they “move forward based on the facts, the law, and our commitment to our mission to protect the civil rights of all Californians.”
While the latest Activision Blizzard sexual harassment / discrimination lawsuit was settled for $18 million, this pales in comparison to the Riot Games gender discrimination lawsuit.
As the legal battle continues we’ll keep you guys posted.