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Activision Adds Legal Staff Amid Labor Fight, Microsoft Deal (1)

Activision Adds Legal Staff Amid Labor Fight, Microsoft Deal (1)

Activision Blizzard Inc., a video clip activity holding business hoping to close subsequent yr on its $69 billion sale to Microsoft Corp., has appointed a few legal professionals to labor and employment-targeted positions and named a new basic counsel for subsidiary Blizzard Leisure Inc.

The company promoted Caroline Elkin, its chief privacy officer, in July to the further purpose of main labor counsel. Activision the same thirty day period hired Jeannie Bohlman from Zillow Team Inc. as vice president of work legislation and in June extra Erin Rowin from UBS AG to serve as vice president for personnel relations.

The staff changes arrive as the Santa Monica, Calif.-based mostly firm copes with a unionization drive in the gaming market, as well as lawsuits alleging gender discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

The enterprise defeated a derivative lawsuit in May accusing Activision’s leadership of failing to take motion from statements that it allowed a lifestyle of sexism. In March, the company reached an $18 million settlement with the US Equivalent Work Chance Fee to resolve similar allegations.

Activision has taken actions over the past handful of months to make itself much more employee-welcoming as business workforce have banded together to demand an close to specified practices, these as necessary arbitration agreements.

A spokesman for Activision mentioned the firm “recently aligned tasks and staffing to greatest meet up with internal wants.”

Activision hired former Boeing Co. general counsel Grant Dixton past year to be its chief legal officer. Dixton took more than from the company’s longtime authorized main, Christopher Walther, who retired. Activision hired Walther in 2009 adhering to its merger with Vivendi Games.

Rowin performs within just the company’s human means office, not its lawful team, Activision claimed. She joined the firm just after serving as an executive director and Americas’ head of worker relations and human methods investigations at UBS.

Blizzard Amusement, an Irvine, Calif.-based mostly online video game developer and publisher obtained by Activision as section of its Vivendi deal in 2008, named Mary Tuck to be its new normal counsel in June. Tuck has labored at Activision given that 2006.

Claire Hart, Blizzard’s former major attorney, stepped down previous year to come to be standard counsel for Genies Inc., a Los Angeles-primarily based avatar technologies firm.

Teresa “Terri” Durham, an additional veteran Activision in-house attorney who experienced taken on some of Hart’s responsibilities, stays typical counsel for Activision Blizzard.

Potential Sale

Activision also confirmed it brought on Jeb Boatman past calendar year as a senior vice president for litigation, regulatory, and community coverage law. Boatman joined the corporation after approximately a 10 years at Boeing, where by the former Williams & Connolly associate held a selection of roles at the aerospace giant.

Dixton, who spent practically 16 a long time at Boeing prior to becoming a member of Activision previous summer time, obtained a overall payment package deal from the organization valued at extra than $8.2 million in 2021, for every a proxy statement. Activision’s most current proxy submitting demonstrates that Paul Hastings advises the compensation committee of its board, which is chaired by attorney and video clip activity business govt Brian Kelly.

A shareholder lawsuit filed versus Activision previously this yr identified as out “golden parachute” payments that specified enterprise executives will obtain if the sale to Microsoft is accomplished. Dixton could acquire pretty much $14.8 million next the offer, according to a securities filing.

The largest parachute payment—more than $29 million—is earmarked for Daniel Alegre, a Harvard Law Faculty graduate and longtime Google government employed by Activision in 2020. Activision gave Alegre, its president and chief working officer, a fork out package deal valued at just about $18.7 million in 2021.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is advising Activision on the proposed sale to Microsoft, which is becoming represented by attorneys from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. The deal, envisioned to shut by mid-2023, has offered challenges for labor advocates and attracted the scrutiny of regulators.

Some lawyers, these types of as previous Skadden partner Julia Kazaks, have also still left Activision.

The firm confirmed the departure this month of Kazaks, Activision’s previous govt vice president of lawful. Previously this thirty day period she was named typical counsel for the Arc Institute, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based nonprofit investigation corporation shaped final 12 months that secured $650 million in funding to better understand human disorders.