The Batman-villain-pre-being-dunked-in-acid that is California Governor Gavin Newsom is up to his veneers in legal turmoil this week. The great state of California’s number one export: entertainment (#2 is tree nuts) is an industry historically rife with gender discrimination and sexual harassment. It’s not just movies that get in on the bad behavior, the gaming industry has terrible problems with discrimination as well. Here’s a breakdown of how and why Newsom is involved with the industry’s biggest drama.

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Big money, big stakes, big drama.

Activision Blizzard, the gaming company that makes massively successful video game titles such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Candy Crush, is being sued by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The suit came after years of allegations from employees that women were targeted, harassed, and discriminated against in the workplace. The workplace culture at Activision Blizzard, according to credible reports from many, many employees, has been astoundingly toxic. Even for an industry which is known for bad bro behavior, this stuff seems ripped right out of a poorly written 80’s frat movie. The lawsuit alleges horrible stuff including rampant joking about sexual assault, drunken in-office “Cube Crawls” ending in groping and sexual harassment, and most tragic of all, an incident where a female employee who had been targeted with harassment took her own life. 

California DFEH brought the suit against the company in 2021. But the legal battle is ongoing and the drama continues. Newsom is now being accused of interfering in the case and firing the head counsel for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing after she tried to maintain the integrity and autonomy of the case. The assistant chief counsel resigned in protest of the firing, saying in an email verified by Bloomberg, “As we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel.”

Two top lawyers leaving the case sounds like the inciting incident in a crime thriller, but Newsom is (probably) no criminal mastermind. Last year’s effort to recall Gov. Newsom was a messy, expensive political battle and who happened to be a major contributor? It just so happens that Activision board member Casey Wasserman donated $100,000 to the campaign to stop recall efforts against Newsom. Way to hide your tracks Gav.

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