Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

What kind of place do you want to work at?

Stardock’s a pretty fun place to work.  We have almost no turn over and morale is pretty high.  It is, however, a nerdy place. That means there’s lots of references to Monty Python, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Robot Chicken that sometimes float around.  That is to say, it's not a place for everyone. When we interview people, we make some effort to make sure people know that Stardock is a silly place.  People bring their dogs to work. There are nerf-gun fights. We have a nutritionist come in to help show people (those who want to anyway) how to prepare healthier lunches. We have a personal trainer come in to give classes.  It is, in short, a pretty silly, fun, and unusual place.

And we like it that way.

Some people may find TV show references or jokes told around the office to be “vulgar” or “sexist” or what have you. How they personally understand these jokes is their right. And if a person has a specific problem with someone talking around them about it, then I think people should make a best case effort to not upset that individual. People have rights in the workplace and they should be respected.

Where I draw the line, however, is someone telling us (or me ) that we need to not talk about those things in general. That is, not just when they’re around but even when they’re not around. 

And my response to that is basically – this place may not be for you then – find another job.

The rights of the individual and the rights of the group

To use an example, we had someone who hated the word "fart". Don't ask me why. They just didn't like that word. So around that person, people didn't use that word.  However, they don't have the right to insist that the word "fart" not be used at work at all. 

I would like to think most reasonable people would understand that. But even if they don’t, I would think they would agree that it’s not acceptable wipe out company IP on the way out and file a frivolous “hostile work environment” lawsuit.  If a company's culture is incompatible with you, then the best thing to do is to find another job. Part ways amicably. Don't get angry or bitter. Don't let it take you to such a dark place where you feel justified suing your employer and destroying their property. 

Lawfare

Ever since [Redacted] publicly released selected (and one-sided) documents of her lawsuit against us, we've gotten a lot of negative and frankly, unfair publicity.  More than that, I've received numerous death threats (which included a call to the police), my personal information released online, google maps directions to my house posted, my children harassed, etc. 

None of the people calling for my head (both literally and figuratively) know anything about the situation.  Neither I, nor anyone on our staff, has behaved inappropriately to [Redacted].  Moreover, not only are people of all races, sexes and orientations treated equally here but our management team is extremely diverse -- not because we promote based on race/sex but precisely because we don't.

I would be willing to wager that Stardock has more women in leadership positions as a percent of positions than most technology companies.  We hire the best. [Redacted] was an outstanding employee. She was very talented at marketing and PR. A skill she was very well aware of as this ordeal began with a letter from her lawyer implying that if we didn't pay her off, she'd use her marketing skills to generate a lot of negative coverage of her -- a threat she has since made good on.

Two sides to the story

Unlike [Redacted], I am responsible not just for my own welfare but those of my coworkers. I don't have the luxury to lash out and do a document dump even though doing so would demonstrate just how ridiculous, spiteful and frivolous her case is. However, one day this case will be over. At which point I will be free to give more detail into her claims and the context they were made in.  I hope that the media, that as so quick to vilify me, will be just as eager to talk to me when we are exonerated.  

What I will say is that I hope when we are exonerated that those who reflexively sided with [Redacted] will, in the future, choose to withhold judgment until they have seen all the facts when they see sensationalist journalism. I will say I've been surprised and disappointed in seeing many people I thought had better judgment quickly assume the worst about me despite having run a successful company for almost two decades. We are a technology company in which fewer than 2 people, on average, voluntarily leave per year (this in a company of >50 people) is rare. [Redacted] was the first female employee, in almost 20 years, to voluntarily leave our company.  This in a company whose COO is female, its financial controller is female, its lead developer is female, its marketing manager is female, its lead artist is female, and on and on. Stardock is many things but it is not a boy's club.

Sometimes one party is totally wrong

People tend to want to see "both sides". Sometimes, however, one party is completely wrong and in this case, that party is [Redacted]  Like millions of people every day, she got angry with her boss for things that had nothing to do with whether she was a man or a woman. But unlike most people, she chose to make use of the legal system and a sympathetic media to try to get a pound of flesh. Her first act was to write us a letter demanding, in essence, that we pay her off lest she try to make us look bad in public. We have this letter.

When we didn't give into her demands, she ultimately sued us. First she stated it was because of "constructive discharge". Then she added hostile work environment. Then she added sexual harassment. And then she added, I kid you not, "battery" (because I touched her hair once at a social gathering months before she departed).

The problem for her and those who think what she did is ethical or acceptable behavior, is that our legal system doesn't exist for people to "teach someone a lesson" for making her mad. Instead of simply finding a place to work that she might find more enjoyable, she decided to abuse the legal system. And, for reasons I still find baffling, wiped out our marketing assets (on a side note, I remain amazed at how many supposedly computer literate people out there have suggested that our lawsuit against her was done as "retaliation" given the ease of proving what/when/how she did what she did - we have the logs, we have the forensics. It's trivial to prove).

In my opinion, [redacted] and people like her do great harm to our business climate. Her message seems to be: Conform to my narrow view on how the workplace should be or I will take advantage of being a "protected class" and make you pay for it - either through legal costs or through public release of hand-picked, one-sided court documents to damage you in the public.

What is your honor worth?

Most companies would have paid her off to make it go away. We have insurance, I had to explicitly waive that insurance in order to ensure that the case wasn't settled (because insurance companies just do a cost/benefit ratio). What is ironic, is if she had asked for some severance package before she left, I would have given it to her.  But because she chose to fabricate allegations against me I will fight tooth and nail against that. 

Some specifics

At this stage I am still somewhat limited in what I can say publicly.  What I can say is that not only was there zero behavior directed towards her that a reasonable person could consider "sexual harassment" but there was no behavior that a reasonable person would even consider inappropriate.  I never sent her a "purity test", I never asked her any "personal" questions (she makes numerous false allegations of this nature). Every witness, including her friends, have collaborated our version of events and rejected hers.  Her case is frivolous and this will end only one way: It will be be dismissed.

The only thing they have is my insulting email to her in response to her insubordinate email to me which was written without any consideration of her sex. And I make no apologies for my email. I am sure it causes some people fainting spells but where I come from, you do not email your boss's boss a patronizing "with these behavior modifications we can get along" email and not either get fired on the spot or reamed


Update: Redacted her name, edits.


Comments (Page 2)
on Sep 06, 2012

What would like be without the Prudes of this world? Seriously curses are words in dictionaries in every language developed by every society known to man.  I'd bet even cavemen had a sign for Screw you Rock head.  LOL.  I hate when people put their foolish belief system on everyone else.  I couldn't care less about what is being said in the office if you dont like it put a headset on or find a new job.  You have to love the entitled attitude of some of these idiots.  Good luck on the case Brad, should be open and shut.

 

 

on Sep 06, 2012

Wow. Just wow...

Didn't know any of this was happening, as I completely missed the Elemental:WoM release and was even unaware of the company Stardock at the time. (Was taking a computer game sabbatical) I would say that, despite my encouraging support for the release of Elemental:FE, I am unbiased towards both parties.

Reading thoughly through all documentation listed as well as googled information for other sources about the case, and clearly stating that I have no judicial background nor understand the full law found in the State of Michigan, I can honestly say as an idividual who considers himself morally upright and just that this woman is simply trying to pull in some quick cash. This is the real crime being comitted.

While I would consider such abrasive talk to be unproffessional, and would caution any person who spoke as such that it could eventually get them into hot water, such as the actions that are currently proceeding, I do not believe anything was said or done that would or could warrant guilt on the part of Frogboy.

Ultimately, it's a time consuming and costly venture that could have been avoided. In the end, Frogboy will win the case. Life will move on. FE will still ROCK!

 

on Sep 06, 2012

Kotaku and Reddit seem to be coming down hard on Brad - http://kotaku.com/5940401/pc-gaming-studio-said-she-ruined-their-game-but-only-after-she-sued-the-boss-for-sexual-harassment

 

I don't know what to think, to be honest I didn't like how to responded to her in the email Brad, you kinda did seem a bit stuck up with the whole "I am the company" thing. You have the law behind you of course but morally I think you could have been a bit more sympathetic. I hate lawsuits.

on Sep 06, 2012

Frogboy

Quoting Henry_Morgan, reply 12LOL, Jesus Christ Brad, what'd you do to all these Broken Forum people?  No wonder Tom Chick threw them out. 

Long Story / Short: There's a forum on Qt3 called politics and religion. It's very left leaning. I'm right leaning.  Eventually, they got so toxic they got banned.

 

Oh, I mean yeah, I knew most of that, I just keep thinking you must have burned their houses down or something. 

 

Toxic?  Yup, perfect word for them. 

on Sep 06, 2012

Thomas45567
Kotaku and Reddit seem to be coming down hard on Brad - http://kotaku.com/5940401/pc-gaming-studio-said-she-ruined-their-game-but-only-after-she-sued-the-boss-for-sexual-harassment

 

I don't know what to think, to be honest I didn't like how to responded to her in the email Brad, you kinda did seem a bit stuck up with the whole "I am the company" thing. You have the law behind you of course but morally I think you could have been a bit more sympathetic. I hate lawsuits.

 

Kinda agree here. I spent five years in the Corps and now work in a Fire Department. I AM COMPLETELY CAPABLE OF HANDLING ANYONE'S WORST JOKE, COMEON, INNUENDO, ETC. But at some point, if someone really seems that offended, you kinda have to bend a little. 

I agree that the company atmosphere was probably not right for her. Hell, I truly have a hard time understanding how ADULTS cannot have ridiculous conversations about sex and other absurdities without risking sexual harassment lawsuits, but it is what it is. Maybe your hard-line approach will kinda come back to bite you in the ass...

I hope not, though. I like your company, even if I don't necessarily like your views on everything. Hell, I like you for the most part, too. 

on Sep 06, 2012


Umm...what just happened to that link with the counter-claim? The one where Alexandra Miseta takes back all the accusations she made??

Did you remove the post Frogboy? That was a good read...is basically proved your innocence, depsite the chosen language and comment you used as she was a willing parcipant and even the initiator for a great deal of it.

 

 

on Sep 06, 2012

Thomas45567
Kotaku and Reddit seem to be coming down hard on Brad - http://kotaku.com/5940401/pc-gaming-studio-said-she-ruined-their-game-but-only-after-she-sued-the-boss-for-sexual-harassment

 

I don't know what to think, to be honest I didn't like how to responded to her in the email Brad, you kinda did seem a bit stuck up with the whole "I am the company" thing. You have the law behind you of course but morally I think you could have been a bit more sympathetic. I hate lawsuits.

Certainly the excerpt of it they included made it look pretty bad.

on Sep 06, 2012

Frogboy
I'm right leaning.
....BRAVO !! I always did have a good feeling about you for some reason.     -Ace-

on Sep 06, 2012

First off- I hope you're right and you didn't do this. It's hard for me to reconcile the image of what I believe you're like over the past nine and a half years, with these very horrible allegations.   I have seen false and overblown accusations before, so I do not rush to judgement, unlike much of the internet has.  This rush to judgement makes me worry about Stardock's future even if you are exonerated.

 

That said, these sorts of allegations HAVE to be taken seriously, especially given the rampany misogyny in the industry.  One of the first things I liked about Stardock was that I believed that you were one of the good guys on this front.  These allegations obviously throw that into question.  If I knew a company's CEO did the things you are being accused of, I would not support that company.   I know you often complain about folks "supporting" a company- but voting with your wallet is one of the few true ways consumers have power. 

 

I want to believe you, but I've been burned before.  Two names in particular in recent years that burned me who I admired and turned out to be slimeballs: Eric Massa and John Edwards.  I know better than to go with blind belief.

 

This is the longest and hardest I've thought about a post somewhere for a good while- felt a need to balance how I feel, and I want to happen, with accepting the reality of the situation should it come out how I wish it doesn't.

 

 

 

on Sep 06, 2012

GFireflyE

Umm...what just happened to that link with the counter-claim? The one where Alexandra Miseta takes back all the accusations she made??

Did you remove the post Frogboy? That was a good read...is basically proved your innocence, depsite the chosen language and comment you used as she was a willing parcipant and even the initiator for a great deal of it.

 

 

Um, yeah. If this is true, I'd reeeeeeeeeaallllly like to see it. 

on Sep 06, 2012

My advice Alstein would be to read http://www.scribd.com/doc/105112455/Def-s-Mtn-for-SD and then revisit and carefully read her actual, *specific* allegations.  

Then put that up with that we have no real turn over and that this young lady is the first female employee (20+ years of the company) who has ever left Stardock for another job, let alone left on bad terms.  But the key thing here is to look at the specific allegations.  She was here 3 years. Wouldn't you think someone who was working in a hostile environment would be able to unload lots of horrific, specific examples?  But no, what do we get? I teased her and it made her really mad and the rest is history.

The other thing I want to point out too here is that I'm not hiding behind lawyers or PR. I'm talking openly about this. Answering questions. 

on Sep 06, 2012

DevildogFF

Quoting GFireflyE, reply 22
Umm...what just happened to that link with the counter-claim? The one where Alexandra Miseta takes back all the accusations she made??

Did you remove the post Frogboy? That was a good read...is basically proved your innocence, depsite the chosen language and comment you used as she was a willing parcipant and even the initiator for a great deal of it.

 

 

Um, yeah. If this is true, I'd reeeeeeeeeaallllly like to see it. 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/105112455/Def-s-Mtn-for-SD

It's linked in the article now.

on Sep 06, 2012

YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING!!!!

INSINUATING THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND ME!!!!

HOW DARE YOU!!!!

on Sep 06, 2012

Wow Brad, that crazy.  I am actually reading all the of court transcripts, it's very enlightening to see the process at work.

 

I can see where some stuff could be misconstrued by a person looking for fault or someone who is really dense.  Anyways, That's not why I am posting.  I think you need to either remove or redact that document.  There is personal information posted there that belongs to your employees that testified during the proceeding.  Just saying, this is a public forum, and I do not think they'd want this info out.

 

I hope this resolved in your favor, and this lady is a piece of work.

 

 

on Sep 06, 2012

Yeah Brad you have photos of employees on there so I would suggest removing it for confidentiality reasons too.

I read the opening statements for the prosecution and defence but didnt get beyond that as there's so much of it. Seems to me that she deliberately misconstrued things in order to exhort some kind of settlement from you - I also noticed she's moved onto 3 other jobs since leaving you guys - she's clearly one who's in it for herself and is happy to screw over everyone else- I hope you win this case but it's unfortunate that all this has bubbled to the surface in the leadup to the release of FE.

I guess there's lessons to be learned for the future to guard against these kinds of malicious lawsuits - this must have seriously hit morale at the time of WOM's release

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