California Governor Gavin Newsom is accused of interfering in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. The legal director of the DFEH was abruptly fired, and another lawyer resigns in protest to denounce these supposed obstacles of the Governor’s cabinet, which she will try to appeal by any legal means.
There is not a week that the legal processes of Activision Blizzard do not take a new turn. But today’s is big: according to Jason Schreier in Bloomberg, the Governor of California would have been hindering the DFEH (California Department of Fair Employment and Housing) in its litigation against the video game company.
This comes after two DFEH attorneys who were handling the case against Activision Blizzard have lost their jobs. Janette Wipper, Legal Director (Chief Counsel or CLO) of the DFEH she was abruptly fired by the governor in early April.
His assistant, Melanie Proctorhas resigned in protest, accompanying incendiary accusations against the governor and his administration, mailed to all department employees.
proctor accuses to the Governor of the State, Gavin Newsomof interfering in the Activision case for several weeks, repeatedly demanding advance notice of litigation strategies and next steps.
“As we continued to win on the stadium court, the interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s lawyers“.
Procter explains that Wipper, the DFEH’s chief attorney, tried to protect the agency’s independence and was abruptly fired for it. They are now considering all legal avenues of recourse, including going to court Whistleblower Protection Act (California Whistleblower Protection Act), a channel through which to report irregularities by members of the government.
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In july 2021the California Department of Fair Employment filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for multiple cases of sexual harassment, discrimination and inappropriate conduct in the company behind Call of Duty, World of Warcraft or Overwatch, one of the largest in the world.
This was the fuse of a movement that permeated the employees and the publicleading to protests that led to the creation of a union and focused on the figure of Bobby Kotick, still CEO of Activision Blizzard.
The delicate situation of Activision Blizzard led to the Billionaire proposed purchase of the company by Microsoftwhich beyond doubts among gamers, has aroused serious concern in some senators, who ask for greater scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that could complicate the agreement.
This resignation from the DEFH comes shortly after Activision Blizzard will close an agreement with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) by a sum of 18 million dollarsfor a similar lawsuit filed almost at the same time.
A deal that drew much criticism, including within the DFEH, which said the deal violated the rights of the state of California to exercise its own jurisdiction.
Furthermore, it is considered a ridiculously low figure: a few months before, the DFEH, under Wipper’s legal direction, got Riot Games (a much smaller company) to pay $100 million for a similar lawsuit, when Riot expected to close the deal for $10 million (via Kotaku).
The DFEH’s attempts to block Activision Blizzard’s agreement with the EEOC were rejected by a federal court.
“Justice should be imparted equally to all, without favoring those with political influence“Procter said in his email, encouraging the rest of the Department’s staff to continue with the litigation.