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Top Lawyer on California Suit Against Activision Blizzard Resigns, Alleging interference by California Governor

Christina Gonzalez Updated: Posted:
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California’s case against Activision Blizzard has taken a new turn. A new report by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier details  allegations that California's governor was increasingly interfering with the suit.

The chief counsel on the case, Janette Wipper, was fired by governor Gavin Newsom. Another attorney on the case, Melanie Proctor, the assistant chief counsel, resigned this week to protest her boss’ firing. Both of these attorneys had quit their roles in the lawsuit this month, with no explanation given at the time. 

The ongoing case against Activision Blizzard by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is still pending. The state agency had recently attempted to block the company’s settlement deal with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but a federal judge denied this and eventually signed off on the deal, in a win for Activision Blizzard. 

In this case, the two top lawyers exiting and the allegations of interference bring up questions about the future of the suit. Proctor sent an email (as cited in the Bloomberg report) that alleged that Newsom “repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps in the litigation. As we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel”, she wrote. Additionally, she said that Janette Wipper had worked and tried to maintain the DFEH’s independence, getting her fired.

A representative for Newsom gave a statement denying the allegations and says Newsom will “continue to support DFEH in their efforts to fight all forms of discrimination and protect Californians”. The DFEH gave a similar statement saying that they will continue to enforce state civil rights and housing laws.

Activision Blizzard, which this week just announced the hiring of Kristen Hines as Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, is in the process of review for acquisition by Microsoft. The company has admitted to shortcomings in hiring and, as part of the EEOC settlement and official company statements, vowed to do better to meet diversity goals, and create a more welcoming workplace culture.


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Christina Gonzalez


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