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 5)
on Sep 07, 2012

Not knowing the full story...both sides...it would be wrong to say one way or the other. I don't know Brad as well as some but....being here at WC and in the forums I have a great deal of respect for the man so I give him the benefit of the doubt. The other person I know not at all so anything I say 'would' be heresay and not based on fact. My previous comment is based solely on what Brad said as a response to what another has done. Let that person post here and then we shall see.

on Sep 07, 2012

"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."

again, sane advice to be given to frogboy.  not to me.  this is not a trial room.  this is a forum.  HE wants to chat.  let's chat.

anyway, i didn't hear you or the other guy jumping in to withhold judgment when everyone was hailing wardell as their personal lord and savior.

"Anyways, what your dog in this fight?"

as i intimated above - what's yours?  if you love him so much, why don't you marry him? (best heard in your head as delivered by a 9 year old girl)

"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."

i don't particularly dislike him.  as i wrote in my previous post (first?), i was a fan.  things that he said i liked.  things that he said i disliked.  and actually was signed onto stardock forums awhiiiiiile back.  and it was his twitter post linking to this forum (i followed him) that brought me back here trying to figure out what my password was.

and i don't believe i actually am taking this personally or emotionally.  though when people criticize me for not "thinking things through" (i defy you to find fault with the logic of what i have said thus far) i think - in terms of emotionality - people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

i have no dog in the fight except to be twitter following someone who has a kotaku article written about him and then who wanted to talk about it but who seemed to be presenting only his side.  if you "thought things through" and looked at all the information in the said kotaku article, it would be apparent that the discussion here is pretty one sided... and considering the subject matter - that rubbed me the wrong way.

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

but as i said, i have no dog in the fight.  let me deconstruct brad's position favorably as well and lay his position out as plainly as i see it.

"I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing person and I'm not inclined to change my behavior."

i'm pretty sure he didn't mean "sexist".  again, from context, he probably meant something like "racy" or "saucy".  if he is truly "sexist" http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sexism , at the very least, he should be given a round of applause for having the courage of his prehistoric and misguided convictions.  but again - i think he mis-spoke.  he's saying he's a vulgar, non pc, racy kinda guy.

like with the plaintiff's email, unfortunate wordings obscure meaning and create oportunities for enemies to exploit.  this should be a sobering thought - if you set up strawmen, it's hard to complain when it's done back to you.

besides all this legal mumbo jumbo, i'm of the opinion that "where there's smoke, there's fire".

did this "outstanding" employee making six figures just, out of the freakin' blue, decide to file a sex lawsuit just for shits and giggles?  

i find it hard to buy.  i'm sure there are women who would.  but i don't think they would be so excellent at their jobs.

i think it's probably just a case of flirting gone bad.

1. flirtation was engaged in

2. reaction was far more negative than expected (we've all been there... though the boss/employee thing is inadvisable)

3. counter-reaction driven by anger results in a reply that ends with an also inadvisable expression of "my way or the highway - 'this is MY house!' "

4. ego bruise>ego bruise>ego bruise + terms that are legally dicey... that setup the grounds for a lawsuit.  based on bruised egos and inadvisable, hasty words driven by emotion.

and here we are.

is this something she should be suing over?  probably not.  should he have said what he did in just the way he did putting her job at stake?  probably not.

but here we are.

and then if the chronology is sex lawsuit first, then the "crazy bitch deleted all the files" lawsuit second (and again, for someone who is so outstanding, meriting a six figure salary... she sure is playing this fast, loose and CA-RAZY according to the story) one would ask oneself - as the kotaku article does - is the second lawsuit simple meritless retaliation hoping for a legal war of attrition - and that driven by just pure spite?

especially since brad has expressed his personal disgust with such frivolous legal activity, i hope for his sake that that he himself is not culpable of such abuse.  

but ya wonder.

i really really hope that's not true.  cuz if it is... again, i have a big facepalm with frogboy's name on it.

 

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

so a mountain out of a mole hill.  if i'm right (hey, i'm not guaranteeing that i am... i'm just telling you what i smell) it's compounded misunderstandings amped by the heightened emotions and ego surrounding flirtation.

a simple thing spiraled badly out of control.  hopefully at worst, a "michael scott" moment with real world consequences piling on. 

and now it'll all just be obfuscated and made complicated by a wall of legalese and technical nit picking that will enrich nothing but lawyers.

gah.

and if this is what happened, they should fucking print this out, have a meeting, apologize sincerely, shake hands and just be human beings about it.  she's making six figures, does she need the money?  he's got a company and the game is done, does he?

 

 

on Sep 07, 2012

My dog is conflicted and chasing around his own tail.

 

on Sep 07, 2012

Reply 62.....nail on the head.

on Sep 07, 2012

jinchoung

and i don't believe i actually am taking this personally or emotionally.  though when people criticize me for not "thinking things through" (i defy you to find fault with the logic of what i have said thus far) i think - in terms of emotionality - people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

---

i have no dog in the fight except to be twitter following someone who has a kotaku article written about him and then who wanted to talk about it but who seemed to be presenting only his side.  if you "thought things through" and looked at all the information in the said kotaku article, it would be apparent that the discussion here is pretty one sided... and considering the subject matter - that rubbed me the wrong way.

---

besides all this legal mumbo jumbo, i'm of the opinion that "where there's smoke, there's fire".

---

so a mountain out of a mole hill.  if i'm right (hey, i'm not guaranteeing that i am... i'm just telling you what i smell)

 

Jinny-

Without any credential fallacy implied, you are very intelligent, and your dialogue is compelling.  However, vested interest in this matter as one of a "twitter follower" smacks of it's own splendid "Aunt Sally".  It occurs that your core arguments coalesce into suggestions that you're merely a "calling it like you see it" kind of guy, yet you proffer these proclamations with a decided skew that comes off like - "I'm telling you right now, where there's smoke there's fire, and this whole thing is REAL SMOKEY! - and here's all the reasons why..."

That's tremendous of you to elucidate all of us so imperatively, but it's as if you have some degree of passive aggressive angst that you can't help but put on parade for all to wonder.

Trudging along through all these legal briefs, articles, and posts, is real fun, but why would anyone want to make an exercise out of it unless they had some grist for the mill as it were?  Your freight train of thought derails at the Ad Hominem Circumstantial junction though.

Unfortunately, I can only speculate, so I will refrain from saying I'm just calling it like I see it.  Or will I?

 

Ad hominem circumstantial points out that someone is in circumstances such that they are disposed to take a particular position. Ad hominemcircumstantial constitutes an attack on the bias of a source. This is fallacious because a disposition to make a certain argument does not make the argument false; this overlaps with the genetic fallacy (an argument that a claim is incorrect due to its source). [1]

[1] Walton, Douglas (1998). Ad Hominem Arguments. University of Alabama Press. pp. 18–21.

The circumstantial fallacy applies only where the source taking a position is only making a logical argument from premises that are generally accepted. Where the source seeks to convince an audience of the truth of a premise by a claim of authority or by personal observation, observation of their circumstances may reduce the evidentiary weight of the claims, sometimes to zero.




on Sep 07, 2012

Just registering my support for the studio.  Hopefully the plaintiff doesn't get a dime.  If she does, let us know; multiple copies of FE can be purchased to help with legal bills

As far as the other posts concerning getting both sides of the story and what-not; valid point.  Criminal misconduct should be punished, but at this juncture, until the court rules, I'm backing the studio.  Just my position, fault me for it if you want.
Your office is too dynamic, innovative, and RARE to let American legal madness sink it.  Besides, you're a fellow Texan  

on Sep 07, 2012

Protoplazm
That's tremendous of you to elucidate all of us so imperatively, but it's as if you have some degree of passive aggressive angst that you can't help but put on parade for all to wonder.

That kinda sums it up ....

For me there's altogether too many repetitions of 'six figure salary' and 'fucking' to ascribe any credibility to the notion of impartiality and/or indifference....

The best use of expletives is minimalist-for-effect.  Those who feel a need to pepper their communications with them tend to have little of pith to impart...

on Sep 07, 2012

jinchoung
what he said
 

 

 

My ultimate goal is not to argue with you.  I wasn't there, but I've worked in environments that resemble Stardock. Those are called academia.  They are run like personal fiefdoms. A benevolent ruler makes the place magical. Malevolent rulers make the place a living hell.  Most places of employment that are privately owned are a cross between the two.  People have good days and bad days.  The same joke can be misconstrued on any given day.

I am not defending Frogboy per se.  I dislike some of what he does, and I might not agree what what happened during the release of E:WoM.  I've also heard bad things about Demigod, but again, when of late have you bought any game the delivered exactly what it promised. Where Stardock stands out is that it supports it's products.  The development and support cycle is long.  

 

Back to the point!  What happened there, we will never know.  We will only get second hand information.  I am not willing to start a witch hunt when clearly all parties were guilty of one thing or another.  What exactly were they guilty of??  I'm not sure.  We know Frogboy can be mercurial at times.  THis woman appears to have played that same game, but somewhere along the way, she changed the rules and forgot to inform the rest of the players.  

 

That's about it.  I do not want to argue with you, because I think you make some valid points, but ultimately it's all moot anyways. If Frogboy makes you so angry, I'd suggest you do not buy his products and go vent on Kotaku, otherwise you'll get pummeled here for just stating your mind.  Of course if that's your intention in the first place, then keep up the good work.

on Sep 07, 2012

Heck....I'm only on page 14 of all this rubbish....and I'm not all that young....I may not make it to the end.....

on Sep 07, 2012

Wow there's been a bunch of posts on here since the last time I checked, missed all these posts by Jin.

Well I probably am biased in favour of Brad and am making assumptions about Amanda but there's been many of these BS cases in the past and it makes me highly cynical about alot of these harassment lawsuits and consequently it demeans the importance of laws that are in place to protect people from genuine harassment. Looking at her accusations, it appears most of them have been taken from the purity test which is pretty disingenuous really and I feel it undermines her case. What bothers me is that even if Brad wins this case, his reputation will still be slurred and there will be questions about him despite an acquittal - I'm not familiar with the US legal system but maybe there's grounds for defamation here.

I also take issue with this 'there's no smoke without fire' crap - seriously? There are BS lawsuits all the time - where there's money to be gained, people will have a go. As an intelligent, driven, high-flier I can picture her doing this for cash although that's one for the courts to decide upon through cross-examination. Lawyers tend to stoke these issues up too.

Brad doesnt help himself by running his office in the informal way that he does as it leaves him open to accusations nowadays. Allowing people to dick about in the office doesnt strike me as the best way to run a business, but that's his decision to make. It certainly doesn't look like a hostile business environment to me, just very informal

on Sep 07, 2012


Quoting Protoplazm, reply 65That's tremendous of you to elucidate all of us so imperatively, but it's as if you have some degree of passive aggressive angst that you can't help but put on parade for all to wonder.

That kinda sums it up ....

For me there's altogether too many repetitions of 'six figure salary' and 'fucking' to ascribe any credibility to the notion of impartiality and/or indifference....

The best use of expletives is minimalist-for-effect.  Those who feel a need to pepper their communications with them tend to have little of pith to impart...

 

Bang!  Spot on.  To be honest, even after a judgment is called for or against, I'll hold no ill will against either party.  In my opinion in situations like this both sides share a bit of guilt, and I think in this case it's mostly clumsy behavior on both sides mixed with a bit of sour grapes gone bad.  Both sides, from what I have seen, have admitted stupid behavior, hers for trashing company property, his for writing a stupid, written-in-anger type of letter.  It's a lot like a divorce case were a mutual split happening amicably should happen but usually doesn't and a lot of vitriol gets spewed. Oh, and as for those running around telling Brad not to post his side of the story because they are all armchair quarterback lawyers... well, yeah, if this hadn't or wasn't going to go public anyway, I'd agree, but from what I can tell the douche bags on certain forums were going to post this shit anyway.  So, you might as well get ahead of it and at least tell your side of the story without letting  a bunch of partisan shit bags spin a narrative to it (which I will get to in my next paragraph).

 

But, yeah, I agree with Jafo on this... there is a lot of weird partisan political behavior going on mixed with juvenile stupidity.  I've seen some of the folks on Qt3 respond in such way that amazes me considering some of their own brand of humor that I've seen them dish out over the last year or two after being on there.  As far as Kotaku goes, how do folks reconcile themselves that they are such ardent defenders against harassment yet ask certain folks (Brad) to go kill himself (read some of the comments).  Seriously, what's worse?  I am pretty sure that telling someone to kill themselves is worse than bad judgement in the workplace.  I mean call me crazy.  Which leads me to my next point for Brad...

 

Brad, why in the ever living fuck do you post over on Qt3?  I know Tom's your friend and all, but the company he keeps is so partisan that innocent or not, you were guilty before you said a word.  Here is what you've been called: a liar, a sexist, a creep, a shitbag, a douchebag.... I could go on.  My legal advice to you is to quit going there.  They sure as shit aren't going to listen to you nor are they ever going to pass any sort of impartial judgement. I take that back, a few of them might but holy shit....  guilty till proven innocent, just like every other circle of gossipy group of adolescents.

 

Oh, and to get just a little bit off topic but sort of semi-related, when I see a bunch of 'libertarian', 'Atlas Shrugged' and/or 'Fountainhead', 'conservative', 'right-winger' type of comments posted over and over and hurled at Brad with vitriol in response to any of this, then it really makes me wonder where these assholes were when Bill Clinton was around during his last days of office.  Oh how quickly these assholes were to defend the king of sexual predatory practice.  Still defended to this day too, but I suppose rape or sticking cigars up an intern's vajayjay was hunky dory with the far, far left.   <---- and this comes from a liberal (well, liberal on most things). 

on Sep 07, 2012

Those who feel a need to pepper their communications with them tend to have little of pith to impart...

More fluid intake might improve that...

on Sep 07, 2012

No, Jin, you don't want to "chat" about it. You want to try to play arm chair lawyer where you get to cherry pick one thing and ignore the rest.  

on Sep 07, 2012

I'm still getting through it....makes curious 'entertainment'....

Maybe I should hold out for the Movie release...

on Sep 07, 2012

Heck....I'm only on page 14 of all this rubbish....and I'm not all that young....I may not make it to the end...

Well I'm older than you and I got to the end of it.  You need to focus a bit more and you'll get there, too... just don't dwell too long on the sexual side of things and you could be finished by morning if you get stuck into it now [11.51pm].

Anyhow, after reading through all that stuff I'm left with a burning question, and that relates to the sexual proclivities, which got mentioned once or twice throughout.  Like what, have I been missing something all these years?  I mean, I was generally open to a little bedroom experimentation, within reason, that is, so now I'm left wondering why none of my former partners ever encouraged it... delving into this proclivities stuff.  Hmmm, sounds like it could have been fun, and dammit, I missed out.

That's right, a bit of frivolous nonsense, but the tone was getting heavy in places and WTF, it needed lightening up some.

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