Activision Blizzard has hired a legal firm known for union-busting to investigate sexual harassment claims

A controversial law firm to appoint

It’s been revealed that Activision Blizzard has hired the renowned union-busting legal firm, WilmerHale, to review the company’s policies after a lawsuit accused the firm of subjecting employees to “constant sexual harassment, including groping, comments, and advances” in the workplace.

Previously best known for its work with Amazon when it came to handling workers demanding better pay and working conditions, WilmerHale is generally considered to be an anti-union legal firm. The firm’s site explains how it advises on “union awareness and avoidance” with specific attorneys trained to develop “union avoidance strategies and union organisational campaigns” as well as dealing with managing of strikes.

In a further twist to the fast-evolving story, Ion Hazzikostas, game director at World of Warcraft, previously worked at the law firm. He was an associate in the Litigation Department at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP before it merged to become WilmerHale. His areas of expertise included white-collar criminal defence and large-scale internal investigations, according to Wowpedia.

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He joined Blizzard just before the launch of Wrath of the Lich King and has worked at the company ever since.

Other clients that WilmerHale has represented over the years include Swiss banks accused of profiting from the Holocaust and firms such as Siemens AG, and Krupp AG accused of exploiting forced labourers during the Nazi era.

The work with Activision Blizzard will be led by WilmerHale partner, Stephanie Avakian, who rejoined the firm’s Washington office earlier this year after serving as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement director during the Trump administration. She’s a member of the firm’s management team and chair of its securities and financial services department.

An email to Bloomberg Law, also revealed that the firm has appointed its anti-discrimination practice chair, Brenda Lee, and special counsel Tania Faransso to work on the probe with the company citing that it has “extensive experience assessing workplace culture and helping organisations strengthen their workplace environments”.

In related news, Ubisoft employees have signed an open letter in support of the protests at Activision Blizzard, while Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has pledged changes will be made at the firm in the wake of the allegations.

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