DFEH attorney accuses California governor of interfering in the Activision-Blizzard lawsuit


The Activision-Blizzard scandal just keeps on scandaling – and drawing more people and agencies into its ugly orbit. Bloomberg has a piece up today chronicling the fate of the attorneys who were overseeing the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard, which was filed last summer.

According to Bloomberg, no less than California Governor Gavin Newsom has now stepped into the headlines, having “abruptly” fired one of those attorneys, Chief Counsel Janette Wipper, which then led to the protest resignation of Assistant Chief Counsel Melanie Proctor. In a memo to staff, Proctor reportedly accused Newsom and his staff of attempting to “interfere” in the conducting of lawsuit, ostensibly on Activision-Blizzard’s behalf.

“The Office of the Governor repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps in the litigation,” Proctor wrote. “As we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel.” She says Wipper, her former boss, was fired for protecting the DFEH’s “independence;” Wipper is now apparently considering pursuing claims under the California Whistleblower Protection Act.

The DFEH had also raised objections to Activision-Blizzard’s shockingly low-value settlement with the federal EEOC, but California’s objections were rejected. At this point, it is unclear what will happen to the lawsuit.

Source: Bloomberg
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees strike and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
If you were wondering why Newsom might intervene as alleged, Politico offers a compelling theory: Casey Wasserman, a member of Activision-Blizzard’s board of directors, donated $100,000 to the Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom campaign. That recall failed last November, and Newsom kept his job. Newsom’s office has denied interference. Wasserman and Activision-Blizzard have yet to comment. (Cheers, OPUno.)
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