California state attorney suing Activision is fired, sparking controversy (NASDAQ:ATVI)

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The legal drama at Activision Blizzard (ATVI -0.1%) possesses took a new turn and now includes claims that California Governor Gavin Newsom intervened in the state’s lawsuit against the company.

A top civil rights attorney for the state, Janette Wipper, was fired March 29 while pursuing the case as chief attorney for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. His attorney says Wipper is considering filing a lawsuit under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Meanwhile, a deputy chief attorney also involved in the Activision case, Melanie Proctor, resigned on Wednesday in protest. An email from Proctor accused Newsom and his team of intervening in the lawsuit (Newsom’s spokesperson said such claims were “categorically untrue”).

“The governor’s office has repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and next steps in litigation,” Proctor wrote in the email, according to Bloomberg. Activision’s lawyer.

The turmoil threatens the fate of the state’s currently pending lawsuit, filed last July and alleging violations of equal pay and fair employment laws in a ‘sexist’ culture ensuring women were less well paid than men and were subject to constant sexual harassment.

Activision Blizzard shares fell precipitously from the time of the lawsuit through the end of 2021 – down about 26% over this period (see a graph here) – eventually leading to Microsoft (MSFT -1.2%) $69 billion takeover bid in early 2022.

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