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California State Governor Gavin Newsom before a meeting in Sacramento, CA, May 31, 2020. (Photo: Matt Gush/Shutterstock)

Department of Fair Employment and Housing Employee Alleges Gov. Newsom Interfered in Activision Case

Newsom also allegedly fired DFEH Chief Counsel over decisions around case

By Evan Symon, April 13, 2022 1:16 pm

Governor Gavin Newsom faces new scrutiny on Wednesday over the firing of  Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Chief Counsel Janette Wipper following reports that she had allegedly been let go by the Governor for not listening to him and Newsom trying to get involved more in a major sexual harassment lawsuit.

Issues with the case, Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., date back to July 2021. That month, the DFEH sued Activision Blizzard, a video game company worth $23 billion, over multiple sexual harassment and discrimination practices allegedly done by company employees. The DFEH claimed that the gender-based competition, promotion, termination, constructive discharge, retaliation, and harassment discrimination, as well as alleged unequal pay and failure to prevent discrimination and harassment violated both the California Equal Pay Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act. In their lawsuit, the DFEH pushed for the court to have Activision Blizzard comply with California’s civil right and equal pay laws, as well as the company paying significant fines, compensatory and punitive damages, state legal fees, and unpaid wages.

According to DFEH assistant Chief Consul Melanie Proctor, the Office of the Governor tried to step in, demanding advance notice of litigation strategy, asking what the next steps were, and making the same moves as Activision’s legal team. As the case progressed and the DFEH won in court, Proctor alleges that the demands from the Governor’s office increased. Wanting to protect the DFEH’s independence on such matters, Wipper decided to continue pursuing the case and began looking at harsher penalties.

“The Office of the Governor repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps in the litigation,” said Proctor in a letter on Tuesday. “As we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel.”

A few months later in September 2021, A similar lawsuit against Activision filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was settled for $18 million. Wipper, feeling that the amount was too low, did not include enough penalties, and worried about how it would affect the DFEH case, immediately tried to block the settlement, allegedly upsetting the Governor’s office. However, the stay was denied in February, leading for the settlement to be paid last month. Shortly after that, Wipper was fired by Newsom. On Tuesday, Proctor herself resigned over incident in protest, noting further that Wipper had been terminated for trying to keep the agency’s independence and that she was looking into legal recourse, including filing a claim under California’s Whistleblower Protection Act.

“Wipper was fired after attempting to protect the DFEH’s investigation,” added Proctor in her resignation letter. “She is evaluating all avenues of legal recourse including a claim under the California Whistleblower Protection.”

Accusations against the Governor’s Office, Newsom

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Governor’s office has yet to respond the the accusations and possible legal recourse heading Governor Newsom’s way. The DFEH refused to comment on the case, with DFEH deputy communication director Fahizah Alim writing that the “DFEH does not comment on personnel matters. DFEH will continue to vigorously enforce California’s civil rights and fair housing laws.”

The accusations of interference in the case by the Governor’s office, as well as Wipper’s claim of being unjustly fired, brought shockwaves to Sacramento on Wednesday, with many experts noting that, if true, could really harm Newsom’s Governorship.

“Before going into this, we have to remind ourselves that this is only one sides story,” explained California employment lawyer Jim Keeler to the Globe on Wednesday. “We have yet to hear from anyone else. The facts show that the Activision case is ongoing, that Wipper was let go shortly after the EEOC case was settled, and that her assistant resigned.

“That being said, if this is all true, the Governor’s office would really be in hot water. Agencies like the DFEH operate pretty independently, and for the Governor to try and put one hand on the steering wheel and then firing the person for not listening to them like that, that is big. I think we need to hear from the Governor’s office first though, as well as the DFEH and any other place that can shed light on the incident. But, again, if true, this is bad for them. And also, no matter what, this will affect the Activision case which is still active. We need to remember that this is an ongoing case still, and now all of this is happening.”

As Wipper and Proctor were the two top lawyers in the Activision case, it is currently unknown what impact that will have on the case. Currently, the DFEH case against Activision is scheduled to be heard in February 2023.

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Evan Symon
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51 thoughts on “Department of Fair Employment and Housing Employee Alleges Gov. Newsom Interfered in Activision Case

  1. Another “mini” scandal for the Newsom dictatorship. However, these little ones could add up. A lot of little critters taking bites out of the elephant will eventually result in the behemoth bleeding out – politically speaking, of course.

  2. “Dammit Janette, my investment portfolio has a LARGE position in Activision!!! BACK OFF!!!”

    We can only hope that Raymond is right, and this helps people realize what a corrupt “Young Global Leader” minion of Klaus Schwab’s evil empire/World Economic Forum we have at the helm of California governance, and he’s running the ship aground….

    1. Just wait til someone has the chutzpah to investigate his shady dealings with Chinese conglomerate (BYD) about the shady train car deals AND the facemask deal, and the kickbacks involved…
      Can’t wait for THAT s-show….

    2. CriticalDfence9, Some are saying that Klaus Schwab is sweating beads because Vladimir Putin is threatening to short circuit the WEF global reset and replace it with plans of his own. Perhaps this is what Putin meant by “denazification”? Not condoning the Ukraine war, of course. But there’s more to this than just territory – e.g., world reserve currency, oil, rubles, gold, petro-dollar, yuan, religion….WWIII may have already started; as an economic war.

  3. Given all that Newsom has done to play fast and loose with his power, engage in questionable deals that have thus far not even begun to be addressed, stifle just about everyone and everything in this state, and more, this kinda sorta seems on first reading like an attempt to take down the head of the Mafia on tax evasion. I get how the charge of using one’s power to interfere in a righteous prosecution no matter the reason is a very big deal and all the more so if the interference is to protect Newsom’s interests, whatever they might be in this case. Unfortunately we have come to realize that our state departments are not exactly pure as the wind-driven snow, so I guess we’ll have to see what game is being played here, if any, and watch what happens next. Huge sigh…

  4. Unfortunately, moron California voters will continue to elect these clowns. The powerful and corrupt public employee unions have more than enough money to protect their lackeys in the legislature and governor’s office.

  5. 1) How much did they contribute to Gavin’s campaign?
    2) How much did they contribute to Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s ‘charities’?
    3) How much did they contribute to the Democratic vs. Republican parties?
    Surprised that even some of this wasn’t researched ahead of time.

    1. 1) A LOT if not MOST of it
      2) A LOT if not ALL of it
      3) 99.7% to (D), 0.03% to (R)

      Sad, huh???

  6. Newsom’s cabal in the Democrat Party have turned their sights on Diane Feinstein. I don’t agree with most of her positions but does she deserve this kind of treatment? Besides, how mentally fit is Biden? The SF Chronicle, of course, is the primary source of this story. If Feinstein is out of the way, Newsom can take her seat, or better yet, someone can just hand it to him, no?. ..https://nypost.com/2022/04/14/democrats-fear-sen-dianne-feinstein-no-longer-mentally-fit/

    1. None of the D “senior” “leadership” has much in the way of their mental faculties :
      Feinstein
      Pelosi
      Biden

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