Human Rights

WilmerHale has a proven track record of successfully guiding clients through the intricate landscape of human rights issues across the globe.

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  • The following matters are representative examples of WilmerHale’s human rights-related work:
  • Investigations

    • Represented the City of Baltimore, the City of Chicago, the government of Puerto Rico and their respective police departments in high-profile civil rights pattern and practice investigations by the US Department of Justice. 
    • Conducted an internal investigation for a multinational company facing public and legal allegations of child labor in its supply chain.
    • Conducted a review of workplace nondiscrimination policies and practices, as part of a civil rights audit regarding the US operations of a global foodservice retailer, to inform the company’s human rights assessment.
    • Represented a major multinational company in a complex government investigation and analysis of forced labor risks in their supply chain.
  • Litigation

    • Achieved a complete victory following trial in federal court for The Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and his family in Rezaian v. Islamic Republic of Iran et al. The victory resulted in a $180 million judgment against Iran for hostage-taking, torture and terrorism under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. 
    • Ongoing representation of The Pan American Health Organization in Rodriguez v. Pan American Health Organization in claims alleging trafficking and torture of Cuban government doctors as part of the largest-ever public health program administered by a UN specialized agency. 
    • Ongoing representation of a foreign cabinet secretary wrongfully accused of crimes in retaliation for official and personal acts to protect the environment. As part of an ongoing effort to contest retaliatory criminal charges, the firm has sought to vindicate her rights through litigation before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and direct advocacy opposing any efforts to arrest and incarcerate her in violation of international human rights law.
    • Ongoing representation of a US public company in a massive takings claim against Cuba, as certified by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission.
    • Ongoing representation of a leading US oil and gas drilling company in complex US litigation against Venezuela and its national oil company for unlawful expropriation under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
  • Supply Chains, Trade and Compliance Counseling

    • Ongoing advice to corporate clients  on modern slavery and ethical supply chain issues, including under the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, the United Kingdom Modern Slavery Act, and Canada’s Modern Slavery Act.
  • Pro Bono

    • Secured a precedent-setting outcome for pro bono client Lisa Ricchio in the first civil lawsuit against a hotel or motel under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The case had significant implications for the law governing hotel/motel liability for sex trafficking under the TVPA. WilmerHale won a groundbreaking precedent from the First Circuit, confirming that hotels/motels can be held civilly liable when they turn a blind eye to trafficking. Following this case, many similar suits were filed across the country.
    • Alongside the Media Legal Defence Initiative, obtained a significant judgment from the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist who is renowned for her work in exposing corruption in the Azerbaijani government. In a unanimous judgment, the court found violations of our client’s rights to respect for private life and freedom of expression and highlighted the “grave chilling effect” on journalism of the government’s conduct.
    • Represented nine Atlanta-based survivor support organizations in an amicus brief urging a broad interpretation of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The Eleventh Circuit accepted the position that we urged.
    • Won a landmark Supreme Court victory on behalf of clients Alliance for Open Society International, CARE, Pathfinder, SaveTheChildren, and dozens of public health organizations in Alliance for Open Society International v. U.S. Agency for International Development, holding that a pledge requirement is an unconstitutional condition on federal funding that violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.  

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