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Gavin Newsom Accused of Interfering in Activision Blizzard Lawsuit as State Official Quits in Protest

Melanie Proctor resigned effective immediately in protest

Melanie Proctor, the assistant chief counsel for California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, quit her job after alleging that Gavin Newsom and his office have actively interfered in the state’s discrimination lawsuit against Activision Blizzard Inc.

According to Bloomberg, Proctor’s resignation also comes in protest over the governor firing her boss, Chief Counsel Janette Wipper, who’d previously resigned from the case, and whom Proctor has said “attempted to protect” the agency’s independence throughout the suit.

In late July 2021, a suit was brought against Activision Blizzard by the DFEH, after allegations emerged of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment.

In an email to staff explaining her resignation, reviewed by Bloomberg, Proctor asserted that Newsom and his office “began to interfere” with the Activision suit, as they “repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps in the litigation.”

Proctor also alleged that, “as we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel.”

Both Wipper and Proctor had already stepped down from the Activision suit earlier this month, though no explanation as to why was given.

Newsom’s communications director Erin Mellon, said in a statement provided to TheWrap that “claims of interference by our office are categorically false” and that the Newsom’s office “will continue to support DFEH in their efforts to fight all forms of discrimination and protect Californians.”

DFEH director Kevin Kish further stated “will move forward based on the facts, the law, and our commitment to our mission to protect the civil rights of all Californians.”

“In recent years, under this administration and my leadership, DFEH has litigated groundbreaking cases that are a model of effective government enforcement of civil rights,” Kish said in a statement. “We continue to do so with the full support of the administration.”