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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus SirKicksalot's Avatar
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    Stardock said she ruined the game... after she sued Wardell for sexual harassment

    This is related to the lawsuit against a former female employee. Stardock claims she destroyed marketing materials. Please check out the source (Kotaku) because there's a lot of info including court documents. Choice quotes, all bolding is mine:

    Witness depositions included in the case documents refer to multiple comments from Wardell to female employees about their breast and bra sizes, and one incident where he asked Miseta to attend a media tour because "[her] nipples look better on TV." They also describe a time on a media tour when Wardell's visit to the hotel room Miseta and another female colleague were sharing made Miseta feel uncomfortable.

    In May 2010, during a dinner on a media tour, Wardell touched Miseta's hair. It was evidently the last straw for Miseta, who, on June 6, after the media tour had ended, sent her boss an e-mail asking him to change his behavior:

    Please never touch my hair or any of my body parts; not even jokingly.

    Please do not talk about my private life or about my boyfriend/future husband in any terms especially negative terms.

    Please be careful with your "jokes" which are at many times inappropriate, sexist, vulgar and very embarrassing not only to me, but everyone present.

    Please keep your negative personal opinions of others (including family members and/or coworkers) not present at the time of your comments, to yourself. I feel, at times, it puts me in a very uncomfortable position.

    With the above few behavioral changes, I'm hoping our previously friendly and professional relationship can be reestablished.

    Wardell's reply began cordially, "Thank you for bringing these up to me as I certainly do not want you to feel uncomfortable at work." He promised to be more careful in the future regarding items one and two, but then continued:
    #3, however is not acceptable to me. I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar and embarrassing person and I'm not inclined to change my behavior. If this is a problem, you need to find another job.

    #4, Again, I am not willing to adapt my behavior to suit others. If you find my behavior problematic, I recommend finding another job.

    I'm not some manager or coworker of yours. I own the company. It, and your job there, exist to suit my purposes, not vice versa. The company is not an end unto itself, it is a means to an end which is to further the objectives of its shareholders (in this case, me).

    -----------------------------

    On July 13 of this year, Judge Robert Ziolkowski heard the arguments and denied the motion to dismiss. Miseta vs. Wardell will go to trial, though a date has not yet been set.

    Attorneys representing Stardock filed the complaint of Stardock vs. Miseta on July 30, less than three weeks later.


    ------------
    Court records from the lawsuit show several troubling messages from Wardell to Miseta, as well as allegations of problematic in-person behavior. E-mail messages included in the records go back as far as March, 2008, and include a link to a sexually explicit YouTube video, a comment that Miseta was chosen to go to a conference "not just because you're 'hot'," and a 100-question "purity test" that he asked her to take and then send him her score from. The purity test includes questions like, "Have you engaged in group sex?," "Have you engaged in intercourse with an unconscious person, while conscious?," and, "Have you had anal intercourse?"

    ---------------

    Witness statements found in the response from Miseta's attorneys, however, contradict the claim. One employee specifically testified in her deposition that Miseta gave her a week's advance notice that she would be leaving Stardock, so that she "knew where [Miseta's] files were" and had access to relevant Google docs. Others had no recollection of Wardell or HR manager Angela Marshall (Wardell's sister-in-law) ever mentioning missing documents causing trouble with Elemental.

    A former Stardock employee, speaking with Kotaku on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that a mere two weeks before launch, Elemental had many technical issues that had nothing to do with its marketing. The employee also added that at the time, nobody mentioned any materials having gone missing or any sabotage having taken place and showed Kotaku communications from Wardell that indicated satisfaction with how Miseta's staff replacement was taking over the review kit and review guide process.


    -------------

    And now Brad Wardell is trying to defend himself on the Qt3 forums (starting here, more posts follow).

    The following is from Brad:

    While there, Alexandra got teased and got mad. At the time, i didn't realize she was so upset about it. So we went to the Qt3 get together (that some here may have even been at) and that.

    She later emailed me telling me she was mad about the incident - to which I apologized for hurting her feeligs but also insisted that I watch what jokes I tell around the office. (To understand the context, we're a relaxed software company, lots of Family guy jokes, Simpsons references, Robot Chicken references, etc.). To which I responded, admittedly, very very harshly to.

    Now, you can argue that I was a jerk in how I responded to her. But it does not justify her getting pissed off, quitting without notice and using her network access to wipe out our marketing assets 3 weeks before the ship of the game forcing me and a few other key team members to scramble at the last second to deal with it.


    ----------------

    He even posted the end of that email, left out by Kotaku:

    I’m not some manager or coworker of yours. I own the company. It, and your job there, exist to suit my purposes, not vice versa. The company is not an end unto itself, it is a means to an end which is to further the objectives of its shareholders (in this case, me).

    While I certainly agree that your rights as a person (certainly in terms of physical contact or in terms of comments made towards you regarding your private life) take precedence over my rights as the owner of the business, that is as far as it goes.

    I sincerely apologize for offending you while on our trip. I certainly would never intentionally try to upset you or make you uncomfortable and will endeavor to avoid doing so in the future. However, I won’t change my basic personality to suit anyone (i.e. being an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar and embarrassing person).


    ----------

    Also:

    It is not illegal to be a sexist, vulgar, inappropriate person. It's not even illegal to be racist. It's only illegal to act on those things.

    Incidentally, every witness deposed was asked "Is Brad Wardell a sexist, vulgar, inappropriate person" and said no. I don't really think I'm a sexist, vulgar, inappropriate person in the objective sense. You've all seen my posts here for over a decade now.

    The point I was making was that as far as she was concerned, my jokes could be all those things and more. But she does not have the right tell me how I can behave at work in general.

    The example that came up during discovery is this:

    If someone says to me, "Please don't use profanity around me." I would say "Sorry, I won't do that around you."

    But if they say "And don't use profanity around the office either."

    I'd say "You don't have the right to tell me that, it's my company and if I want to swear around the office I will."

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Now THAT sounds like the Wardell we all barely tolerate as a person but love as the guy whose company makes the shinies. :p

    Definitely doesn't paint a good picture for Wardell. Although, sadly, these days it seems like all the studios are using their attracitve and intelligent women as spokespersons as a less insanely offensive version of "booth babes". His idiocy seems more that he was explicit, rather than just "Hey, do you want to go present this at E3?"

    All conjecture at this point (both sides have witnesses, we don't have actual data), but from reading through the article, it sounds like she did delete some stuff that may or may not have been vital (the specific line is "had access to relevant Google docs" which is VERY ambiguous). No comment on the "running a side business during working hours" thing either.
    Employees not hearing about it might have been a morale thing (don't panic the workers during crunch time) or it could also be because it wasn't as big of a deal (or wasn't viewed as a big deal at the time).

    My initial stance: Wardell is a jackass, Miseta is playing up Wardell's jackassery to deflect from the stuff she actually did wrong. They probably both deserve to get the book thrown at them.

    As with all stories, there are two sides to this. And, in general, both sides tend to be asshats. And kudos to the original poster for not making too inflammatory of a topic title.
    Last edited by gundato; 06-09-2012 at 08:12 PM.
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  3. #3
    Lesser Hivemind Node TillEulenspiegel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirKicksalot View Post
    The point I was making was that as far as she was concerned, my jokes could be all those things and more. But she does not have the right tell me how I can behave at work in general.
    Ummm...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hostile_work_environment

    With that kind of attitude, I would not be remotely surprised if Wardell loses the sexual harassment lawsuit, and badly. I look forward to the schadenfreude.

  4. #4
    Network Hub Hensler's Avatar
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    Yeah, having sat through hundreds of hours of corporate and government training on sexual harassment and behavior in the workplace, this sounds like a slam-dunk sexual harassment case for the plaintiff. Wow.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    This countersuit sounds punitive and retaliatory.

    "In the office" still counts as a hostile workplace atmosphere, which is an actionable legal concept, and the depositions of the largely male office staff don't necessarily strike me as overwhelming evidence in Wardell's favor.
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  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Well. That ... shouldn't be a very difficult case. I guess the question is whether the counter-suit has any staying power (I'm skeptical) and whether it will successfully weaken any victory in the harassment suit in terms of financial settlement.
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    You ruined his point by putting it in context that’s cheating -bull0

  7. #7
    Lesser Hivemind Node fiddlesticks's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comprehensive overview, SirKicksalot, I hadn't heard of this whole incident before. Judging from the facts presented in the Kotaku article Wardell's behaviour was more than a little questionable and I'm glad to see it dragged into the public eye. Maybe this will encourage other harrassed employees to speak up against the way they're treated.

  8. #8
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    If he really did say the things he said he is possibly the biggest asshole alive (and that's quite a competition).

    "I own the company so I'll treat my staff however I like" is astonishing ignorance - that you could even think that, let alone say it, let alone put it into writing! suggests you are retarded (in the dictionary sense e.g. developmentally retarded - lacking social skills etc.)

    I find it hard to believe someone would contest a case on the basis "it's my company and I can do what I like" but it's amazing what passes for office etiquette and what people will believe.

    Earlier this week I had recourse to call a hosting company I use - they'd deleted something I needed and were denying it. When I got someone on the phone to finally admit they'd done it, they also said that their "boss" who was a "director" (and they said that like I'd say "deity" or "martian") had told them it would be OK and so it was just tough and they weren't going to fix it.

    Put simply, because someone had awarded themselves a title they'd instilled in their staff a sense that they are untouchable and never wrong - I assume their recruitment picks-up on the sort of imbecile who would say something like that because normal people are not that stupid are they?

    or are they??
    Last edited by trjp; 06-09-2012 at 09:26 PM.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Wardell is Republican right? At least he's internally consistent.
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  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Drake Sigar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    My initial stance: Wardell is a jackass, Miseta is playing up Wardell's jackassery to deflect from the stuff she actually did wrong. They probably both deserve to get the book thrown at them.
    Pretty much my view as well. Wardell's clearly a prick, but the 'he started it' line is a poor defence.

  11. #11
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    Everything depends on the staff you hired. If I, my boss and other people in my firm are sexist, vulgar and racist, and then we hire someone, who is not, then what should we do? Should we all change to make this person feel good, or should this person ignore this, or change its behavior?

    In my opinion, this boss guy was a jerk, but when she sent him this email, he acted the way I approve. "I will care what I say to you and near you, but if you don't like this environment, maybe you should look for a work in more stiff office."

  12. #12
    Lesser Hivemind Node fiddlesticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flagoon View Post
    If I, my boss and other people in my firm are sexist, vulgar and racist, and then we hire someone, who is not, then what should we do? Should we all change to make this person feel good
    Yes.

    This isn't even a question of morality, it's a question of law.

  13. #13
    Network Hub Makariel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flagoon View Post
    If I, my boss and other people in my firm are sexist, vulgar and racist, and then we hire someone, who is not, then what should we do? Should we all change to make this person feel good
    Yes.

    You can be sexist, vulgar and racist in your private time (as long as you don't break any laws), but not at work.
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  14. #14
    Lesser Hivemind Node frightlever's Avatar
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    Well this couldn't happen to a better asshole. Hope it reams his wallet, the only thing he cares about.

  15. #15
    I had an MD like that once. I can actually understand where he was coming from in that email, although the way he phrased what he said was offensive and inflammatory.

    Having said that, his prior sexist behaviour is all sorts of wrong, and most likely the result of living in his "laid back" work environment for far too long. They're all used to a gradual breakdown of normal social barriers and so increasingly, anything goes and they stop even recognising the line.

    I think she was right to bring it up, although I think her own email was quite rude too - the result of repressing her feelings on the matter for some time no doubt.

    I also think she was right to ask wardell to moderate his behaviour in the office in general - as it seems like it could be the root cause of the problem. Aside from that there are issues of a legal and comfortable working environment to be addressed. But asking him to moderate his behaviour should have been handled delicately because no matter how you slice it, it's quite an offensive notion.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lukasz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flagoon View Post
    Everything depends on the staff you hired. If I, my boss and other people in my firm are sexist, vulgar and racist, and then we hire someone, who is not, then what should we do? Should we all change to make this person feel good, or should this person ignore this, or change its behavior?
    and for the third time.

    Yes.

    You can be vulgar, sexist, racist in your private time at home. in workplace. No. You cannot also discriminate against anyone based on their sex and their race. so you cannot not hire a black person who is more suitable for the job than a white one just because you are racist and you cannot be racist to them in any way during their employment.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flagoon View Post
    If I, my boss and other people in my firm are sexist, vulgar and racist, and then we hire someone, who is not, then what should we do? Should we all change to make this person feel good, or should this person ignore this, or change its behavior?
    Yes.

    That's the law. Hell, by your method not only is it harassment but it's also discrimination.

    Quote Originally Posted by SanguineAngel View Post
    I also think she was right to ask wardell to moderate his behaviour in the office in general - as it seems like it could be the root cause of the problem.
    The feedback loop of his other staff also seems to play an important contributing part. You can't send salacious shit over staff email if nobody on the staff likes it.
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  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus pakoito's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lukasz View Post
    You cannot also discriminate against anyone based on their sex and their race. so you cannot not hire a black person who is more suitable for the job than a white one just because you are racist and you cannot be racist to them in any way during their employment.
    You *should'nt*, but as the decision process is not externalized you can get away with it anyway.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pakoito View Post
    You *should'nt*, but as the decision process is not externalized you can get away with it anyway.
    Be prepared to defend yourself, however, if someone files a claim with the EEOC.
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  20. #20
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    The problem i see with this is that one case is being brought up and may very well be called up as being "spite" fueled. From what Ive seen in the past, that tends to have the case given far less impact and since both these cases really are kinda awful, it makes me wounder if it will be treated as 1 case, since one is the cause and the other the effect. Does that make sense?

    Still. Kinda didn't know he was THAT much of a sexist child. The email reply of "I'll do what i want as i own this place" really might be the biggest self harm to him

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