An attorney for California's labor agency resigned in protest over what she called "interference" from California Governor Gavin Newsom in the state's lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for its alleged frat house culture, according to a Bloomberg report.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is embroiled in a suit against the company that accuses it of fostering a frat house culture that allowed for sexual assault and discrimination in violation of state labor laws. Activision Blizzard recently settled a similar suit with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; the EEOC and DFEH have also sparred publicly over their competing investigations into the company.
Melanie Proctor, the DFEH's assistant chief counsel, resigned in an email to DFEH staffers Tuesday after her boss, DFEH Chief Counsel Janette Wipper, was fired by the governor.
"The Office of the Governor repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps in the litigation,” Proctor wrote in the email obtained by Bloomberg. “As we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel.”
In addition to the DFEH suit, the company is still facing lawsuits from former employees and shareholders and an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as a union movement inside some of its subsidiaries, including the studio that makes Call of Duty.
"Claims of interference by our office are categorically false. The Newsom administration supports the effective work DFEH has done under Director Kevin Kish to enforce civil rights laws and protect workers, and will continue to support DFEH in their efforts to fight all forms of discrimination and protect Californians," wrote Erin Mellon, communications director for Governor Newsom.
Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from Governor Newsom's office. This story was updated April 13, 2022.