California Gov. Gavin Newsom accused of meddling in sexual harassment lawsuit against 'Call of Duty' maker Activision

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom accused of meddling in sexual harassment lawsuit against 'Call of Duty' maker Activision
California Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Activision, the company behind "Call of Duty," is being sued by California over sexual harassment claims.
  • One of the two lawyers representing the state has accused Gov. Gavin Newsom of "interfering."
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom is being accused of interfering with an ongoing lawsuit brought by the state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing against blockbuster video game publisher Activision.

After the suit's two main lawyers for the state of California, Chief Counsel Janette Wipper and Assistant Chief Counsel Melanie Proctor, resigned from the case earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that both lawyers no longer work for the DFEH.

Wipper's representative told Bloomberg she was fired, and an email from Proctor to her staff said that Newsom was to blame for the mess.

"I hereby resign, effective April 13, 2022," Proctor's email said, "in protest of the interference and Janette's termination."

Newsom's office "repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps," Proctor's email said, according to Bloomberg. As the case progressed, "this interference increased," the email reportedly said, "mimicking the interests of Activision's counsel."

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The suit — filed in July 2021 in Los Angeles — comes after two years of investigation conducted by the DFEH. It accuses the "Call of Duty" maker of fostering a "pervasive frat boy" culture where women are paid less for the same jobs that men perform, regularly face sexual harassment, and are targeted for reporting issues.

In particular, the suit claims that female employees face "constant sexual harassment," from "having to continually fend off unwanted sexual comments" to "being groped." When employees report issues to human resources and management, the suit says, no action is taken.

Activision has refuted many of the suit's claims and said it has cooperated with the DFEH's investigation.

In January 2022, Microsoft announced intentions to buy Activision for an estimated $68.7 billion in an all-cash deal. The Seattle computing giant is expected to inherit the lawsuit should the deal pass regulation and close later this year.

Gov. Newsom's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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