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 4)
on Sep 07, 2012

As stated in the filing, I believed her to be an outstanding employee who is very capable. I had promoted her repeatedly based on merit.

Context, however, is everything.  There's a lot of talk about how that email can be interpreted.  None of this happens in a vacuum.  Our filings, as a whole, speak for themselves.  We intend to have our day in court.

 

on Sep 07, 2012

Let's move this back to the posted topic for a second:

We allow people to bring their dogs to work.  I bring mine almost every day.

One person starts at the company who is, unfortunately, allergic to dogs. They tell you about this and you agree to make sure they are placed somewhere that isn't near a dog.  But they say that's not good enough, that the very fact that there are dogs in the building is enough to upset his allergies and demands that the dog policy be revoked.

What do you do?

If you said, sorry, but this is the culture we have here. We allow dogs. If that's a problem, you'll need to find another job.  Is that person entitled to file a lawsuit? I bet, in fact, that there are such lawsuits out there somewhere.  

What if the boss took offense at the tone of the request and wrote the response in a way that could be construed rudely? Would that make a difference?

on Sep 07, 2012

Personally, I think in that hypothetical situation, the person would not have any legitimate ground to stand on.  They would be promised a place free of dogs, and it would have been before they were even hired, not a new thing forced on them after years of dog-free employment.

That said, you're probably right, there could be a lot of these out there already.  Common sense and the law rarely mesh up completely, and  anyone who thinks they have a loophole or exploit will likely use it to the best of their ability if it's beneficial enough.

I am of the firm belief that there should just be one law.  Do not force your will upon another person.  Everyone should have to sign a contract upon reaching the legal age in their state, agreeing to this one statement, and accepting punishment deemed by a court if they do break that law.

-Twi

on Sep 07, 2012

"We intend to have our day in court."

fantastic.  you'll have it.  but that's not exactly a banner that carries any weight here and you waving it doesn't make you seem more or less innocent (though your waving it seems to indicate that you think it does).  for now, you're talking to us and that flag is more or less irrelevant.

 

"Let's move this back to the posted topic for a second:"

i wasn't aware that the topic had been deviated from.

 

"One person starts at the company who is, unfortunately, allergic to dogs. They tell you about this and you agree to make sure they are placed somewhere that isn't near a dog.  But they say that's not good enough, that the very fact that there are dogs in the building is enough to upset his allergies and demands that the dog policy be revoked.

What do you do?"

FIRST: i just want you to be aware that you are making specifically examples that paint your side in a good light.  we can turn the rhetorical turnstyle and come up on the other side with:

"we don't like jews here.  that's just how we roll.  we hang our swastikas every thursday.  and then norman hoffman files a complaint that he, as a jew, is somewhat uncomfortable with the situation.

what do you do?"

see how this game is played?

 

SECOND: again, you're beating down the strawman.  asserting that she is in fact telling you how to live and conduct yourself when not in her presence or toward her.  that's when your close buddy OCCAM would step in and say, whoa there... let's take a look.  as you say, "CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING..." so is it likely that she's telling you how she thinks you ought to behave at all times... or is she talking about your conduct to her?  especially "IN CONTEXT" to points 1 and 2?

first time i read that letter, i saw the problematic wording especially in 3 (more than a request for a change in lifestyle, i heard it as a personal request abutted with a piece of advice) but then 4 seemed pretty straightforward and all in all, OCCAM would rule against your strawman imo.

ESPECIALLY if: "I believed her to be an outstanding employee who is very capable. I had promoted her repeatedly based on merit."

i find it difficult to believe that someone who is excellent at her job and was promoted repeatedly based on your evaluation of her could harbor such an irrational conviction that she could tell you how to behave and act in general... not just to her... but at all times.... that she had the right and belief that she ought to be able to determine your behavior at all times.

that kind of pathological mindset seems incompatible with a person so "outstanding" dontcha think?  that kinda crazy - the kinda crazy that you are personifying in your strawman - that kinda crazy is pretty hard to hide and gets in the way of excellence.

again - it's your buddy OCCAM who seems to weigh in against you.

 

jin

 

btw - you should take notes - this is the kind of stuff her lawyers are probably gonna hit you with when you have your celebrated day in court.

on Sep 07, 2012

I'm really surprised at how many are instantly judging both her and/or Frogboy. As far as I am concerned, they are both innocent of the allegations until proven otherwise. I mean, that seems like basic human rights to me.

Clearly, we have two wildly differing statements of what actually went on in both scenarios. Why believe either one has any more merit than the other? This isn't an election.

Trying to argue your way to an early informal judgement based on your own assumptions is fucking retarded.

on Sep 07, 2012

"Do not force your will upon another person."

ahhhhhh... the hallowed faith in "non-coercion" raises its head.

but what if, on that day in court, the defendant changes his mind and doesn't want the punishment?  whatever would/could a non-coercive court/judge do?

worse problem - however in the world can a non-coercive system ever fill a jury box of 12 jury of peers to judge?  it's mandatory and it's hard to fill NOW.  and if you earn your money and jury duty is completely of your own free will, how many people will show up?

or pay taxes.  honestly, how far do you think we would get on a "pay what you will" system?

if you are under the impression that real, flesh and blood human beings of this current world would show up in numbers large enough and consistent enough numbers to field a jury system or pay enough in taxes to get just clean socks to the marines, i would say that is a flight of fantasy far greater than any computer game.

the problem with the cause celebre of libertarians is the same problem with communism.  it's idealistic.  and not realistic.  it presents a world that certain people think SHOULD BE and cannot grasp the fact of what simply IS.  

with such idealism, when the rubber meets the road, you get skid marks. not traction.

jin

on Sep 07, 2012

"Trying to argue your way to an early informal judgement based on your own assumptions is fucking retarded."

but since the fucking retarded games have begun, you have to play by the fucking retarded rules....

as for the sanity of the exercise - i disagree.  so far, we're not talking purely on a he-said she-said level.  we've been citing statements that are not contested in terms of their utterance.

so since the source material is agreed upon, it's fair to pull things apart and see what sticks.

jin

 

on Sep 07, 2012

No, it isn't. Because you're not a judge. You have no idea what is relevant or not, nor have you any idea what statements will be challenged in the future.

The trial(s) have not even begun yet, and you have already made conclusions. That, if anything, tells me how little you understand of a justice system.

on Sep 07, 2012

i'm not a judge.  so the justice system has nothing to do with this.

frogboy did not post this thread to a jury of his peers.  he posted it to us.  there is no "justice system" at play in his appeal here. 

he wanted to talk about it.

so let's fucking talk about it.

on Sep 07, 2012

Rational people will conclude that judgement lay in the hands of the court. Not take part in what appears to be a media battle. That's why it is important to note that you have no idea what you're talking about. It's not real. It's spin from both sides, and you are incapable of making a correct conclusion.

So let's not fucking talk about it, because you're making a fool of yourself.

on Sep 07, 2012

I tried out the purity test listed in the defense document. 78.8%.

on Sep 07, 2012

jinchoung
i'm not a judge.  so the justice system has nothing to do with this.

frogboy did not post this thread to a jury of his peers.  he posted it to us.  there is no "justice system" at play in his appeal here. 

he wanted to talk about it.

so let's fucking talk about it.
It doesn't look like you are talking about it.  It looks like you are representing Kotaku sentiment without really thinking things through.  Let's for one moment assume the Frogboy is a jerk, and not an easy boss to work for if you do not subscribe to his point of view, does it make him responsible for her behavior and her actions when she feels that things are going in her favor? Or did that all change when she found a better job, or spoke to a psychic, or a girl circle of whatever caused her to change her mind/attitude towards her work/boss???  Ultimately, a lot of this will be either first degree hearsay or second degree hearsay, so let the lawyers fight it out, and a judge direct them and the jury to come up with a conclusion.

 

Anyways, what your dog in this fight? you seem to be taking it very personally.  If you dislike Frogboy so much, why even post here? you are the one who is up-at-arms and ready for executing justice.

on Sep 07, 2012

"So let's not fucking talk about it, because you're making a fool of yourself."

this would be valid advice to frogboy - to not broach the subject until it comes up in a court of law.  actually, i'm kinda surprised his lawyer has not advised him such.

but again, if he wants to chat, let's chat why not?

again - he is not addressing a court.  this is a forum.  he's talking about it in a forum.  no rule of law governing the proceedings.  we're just human beings shooting the shit in an extra-legal setting.

why that gets your panties in a bunch... >shrug<

and as for you... if you don't want to play the fucking retarded game according to the fucking retarded rules... let me show you the door.  right over here.

on Sep 07, 2012

Heavenfall
No, it isn't. Because you're not a judge. You have no idea what is relevant or not, nor have you any idea what statements will be challenged in the future.

The trial(s) have not even begun yet, and you have already made conclusions. That, if anything, tells me how little you understand of a justice system.

 

You don't have to be a judge to make a decision on what is relevant.  That said, I think some folks have rushed to judgement , either for or against Brad, including some folks I have a good bit of respect for.  The Carpe Fulgur boss said he would have pulled his games from Impulse over this for example.

 

 I would not like a person who did the things Brad is accused of, but I'm not going to condemn Brad until I'm fully convinced he's done those things- he's earned the benefit of the doubt with me over the years.

on Sep 07, 2012

nvm