Apparently, Blizzard is hiring a union-busting firm to handle the problem.
In a public statement addressed to employees earlier this week, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said the company was reviewing policies and procedures to help promote a more respectful and inclusive workplace. To help accomplish that, the company has retained the services of prestigious law firm WilmerHale, which is the same law firm helping Amazon keep its workers from unionizing. Considering ongoing efforts to unionize game workers, the partnership is a little concerning.
In an industry that’s constantly under fire for discriminatory practices, sexual harassment, grueling crunch conditions, and frequent mass layoffs, unionizing is a hot-button issue. As the state of California’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard demonstrates, video game companies have a well-earned reputation for creating work environments that are at best uncomfortable, at worst downright hostile. That’s exactly why the game workers unionization movement has been gaining traction over the past several years.
So when Activision Blizzard, a company currently under fire for its discriminatory practices and rampant sexual harassment issues, hires WilmerHale, a law firm with a reputation for union-busting, heads turn and brows furrow.
WilmerHale is one of the most prestigious law firms in the country. It’s actually a combination of two law firms. There’s Boston’s Hale and Dorr, founded in 1918, known for representing the U.S. Army pro-bono in the Army-McCarthy hearings in the 1950s as well as President Richard Nixon in 1974’s United States v. Nixon. Then there’s Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, founded in D.C. in 1962. Founding partner Lloyd Cutler served as an advisor to Presidents Jimmy Carter and William Clinton, and founded the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy. The two storied firms combined to form Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, known as WilmerHale, in 2004. The combined entity is co-headquartered in D.C. and Boston, with offices across the U.S., Europe, and Asia.