California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has been accused of meddling in the discrimination case against video game giant Activision Blizzard.
Melanie Proctor, a lawyer with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, leveled the claim as she resigned in protest of Newsom allegedly firing her boss, Bloomberg reports.
According to the report, Proctor in an email to staff alleged Newsom's office "began to interfere" with the agency's lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, demanding "advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps in the litigation." She also alleges that her boss, Chief Counsel Janette Wipper, was "abruptly terminated" for trying to "protect" the agency's independence. "As we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision's counsel," Proctor, who served as assistant chief counsel, claimed.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Activision Blizzard, publisher of games like World of Warcraft, last year, alleging the company created a "breeding ground for harassment and discrimination." The lawsuit said that "female employees almost universally confirmed that working for Defendants was akin to working in a frat house, which invariably involved male employees drinking and subjecting female employees to sexual harassment with no repercussion."
In January, Microsoft announced it would buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, with CEO Bobby Kotick, who was accused of knowing about sexual misconduct allegations at the company for years, remaining in his role. The lawsuit against Activision Blizzard remains ongoing. The company recently settled a separate sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $18 million.
A spokesperson for Proctor told Bloomberg she is "evaluating all avenues of legal recourse including a claim under the California Whistleblower Protection Act."