California Lawyer Resigns From DFEH, Claims Governor Newsom Interfered With Activision Blizzard Case

Serious allegations are coming from a former attorney of California against the state’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, today, as reported by Bloomberg. The allegations regard possible interference in the pending case from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing against Activision Blizzard, which you can read about here.

It is important to keep in mind what is going on within Activision Blizzard at this time regarding ongoing allegations about the work culture. The ongoing lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) against the company is over reported toxic workplace culture. The bulk of the suit focuses on “violations of the state’s civil rights and equal pay laws,” specifically regarding the treatment of women and other marginalized groups. To learn more about the proceedings thus far, including details listed in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, please check out our previous coverage here.

Melanie Proctor, who was the assistant chief counsel for Califonia’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, has resigned from the position following the firing of her superior, Chief Counsel Janette Whipper. Proctor’s resignation is in protest of what she calls interference of California Governor Gavin Newsom in the DFEH’s case against Activision Blizzard. 

Bloomberg’s report states that Proctor had written to her staff in recent weeks. In an email to staff, she said, “The Office of the Governor repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and next steps in the litigation.” The letter describes some of the interference, saying, “As we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel.”

The report states that former Senior Counsel Janette Wipper had been trying to protect the DFEH’s independence and “was ‘abruptly terminated’ as a result.” In the email sent to staff, Proctor resigned from her post, effective today, “in protest of the interference and Janett’s termination.”

This news comes just weeks after a potential $18 million settlement for the lawsuit came to light. If it comes to fruition, the settlement amount would be significantly lower than the $100 million Riot Games was ordered to pay out late last year in a similar workplace discrimination case headed by the DFEH. 

Now that two of the top attorneys have left the case on the DFEH side, leading to severe interference allegations leveled against California’s Governor, the legal battle that’s been embroiling Activision Blizzard since last summer is taking some unexpected turns outside of the company. We’ll try to provide any updates to this ever-evolving case as it develops.