Machinima group Rooster Teeth is currently at the center of an ongoing controversy stemming back multiple years.
Multiple former Rooster Teeth employees have come forward with allegations of mistreatment while working at the company. The news broke out over the weekend and spread rapidly on Twitter, with reports of slurs, poor wages, and over-work.
The most damning allegations come from Kdin Jenzen, a former achievement hunter who had made content for Rooster Teeth for 8 years. Jenzen alleges that while working at the company he was called slurs for years, worked 14-15 hour days, and that HR refused to help.
"Within a few weeks of working at Rooster Teeth I was given a nickname, that nickname was a slur. Every day I came into work I was called "F*gg*t" - but they could not use that name in content so when anyone was recording I was called "Fugz" instead. For any fans who used that nickname for me for years, that's what you were calling me," Kdin wrote.
Kdin's post had inspired many more to stand up and share their stories, which have been included below in Tweet form.
Rooster Teeth has responded to the allegations with a very long statement which has also been widely criticized:
As an almost 20-year-old company that started in the earliest days of online video and grew rapidly alongside the rise of internet culture, we have faced inevitable mistakes and interpersonal challenges. 2020 was a year of broad societal change that brought past conduct to our attention. Many individuals at Rooster Teeth acknowledged personal responsibility for their actions both internally and externally. We as a company took that moment to seize the opportunity to respond and improve.
Over the last two years, we've spoken about challenges with the community, pledged to do things better, and implemented internal actions to advance structural improvement. Specifically, we began by bringing in new leadership and workplace change, outside HR support, and external management training consultants. In addition, we engaged an outside compensation tool in 2020 to review our internal pay bands and completed our initial pay parity review in 2021. As our organization continues to evolve, this will be an an ongoing exercise and continual effort.
Our dedication to change has included the valuable input of many team members across the company, Kdin being one, and we're grateful for their collaboration. We have held ourselves accountable, and everyone in the organization has committed to establishing the Rooster Teeth Way--a comprehensive and aspirational set of values and behaviors anchored by our purpose and vision--carefully crafted with the input of the entire company. These values are reinforced by workshops and management training, employee business resource groups (BRGs), increased channels for feedback, both direct and anonymous, and immediate action when warranted.
Leadership, management, and personnel across the company have evolved over the past two decades to build what we believe is a safe, secure, and inclusive workplace. We are disheartened to hear of anyone who has experienced pain resulting from prior experiences working at Rooster Teeth and support the resolution of interpersonal conflicts acknowledging that mediation is complex and doesn't guarantee a perfect solution.
We are committed to hearing every side of each dispute and operating within our authority to uphold the company's values and behaviors. Out of respect for all parties, the company will not comment publicly on these matters. many employees who have voiced past grievances choose to continue working with us, and we continue to encourage them to share their stories as they wish.
Acknowledging employee turnover, we are not immune to the disruptive forces that affect every business and workplace today. Like many other companies, we are experiencing people leaving to pursue different career paths and opportunities, while others are making bigger life changes. Additionally, external economic pressures have impacted some of our business units. As a result, we had to make tough decisions to reduce a handful of roles in select departments to adjust to marketplace realities.
While these targeted actions do not amount to a significant reduction in overall employee headcount, it is still difficult to have to lay off anybody at any time. Since our work is largely project-based, as different shows and channels get created and come to an end, we hope to continue working with many of these people in the future. We are proud of the work they have a done and also proud of being a place where artists and entertainers have unusually long tenures in the world of entertainment. Some of them are already working on new projects that you will see soon.
Openness and transparency are critical to our growth and dedication to doing better. We cannot imagine this is easy for anyone in our community to be reading and hope that even if you're questioning your support, it will remain with the people that you met through the shared interest of who we are.
We genuinely believe in the progress our team has made over the past two years, and stand by our words and our actions, pointing to the work that we have done and continue to do to acknowledge past transgressions, though the work is not done. As we mature in our 20th year, we will continue to move forward together as a passionate, creative company and community with open hearts and minds.