Quantic Dream, the game developer behind Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human, has lost a court case against a former employee. The former employee voluntarily left the company, but because of why that employee left, a French court recently ruled in that employee's favor for unfair dismissal.
The employee left Quantic Dream after offensive Photoshopped images began circulating around the company's office via group emails. Canard PC reported that those images showed employees in sexual positions with sexist and homophobic slurs. In some of the photos, employees were even made up to look like Nazis. Canard PC shed light on these offensive photos with witnesses stating that some of the images appeared in public open spaces at the Quantic Dream offices, with 600 available via a link sent in emails.
After the photos surfaced, one employee left the company. According to French law, when an employee leaves a position because they feel victimized, they have a legal case against that company. While they cannot regain their job or salary, they can still claim unfair dismissal in court. One employee did that, and, according to Eurogamer, won the case against Quantic Dream. The developer now potentially owes that employee a settlement, as well as rights to unemployment benefits. However, Quantic Dream also has the right to appeal the court's decision.
This is not the first employee to take Quantic Dream to court, but this is the first time that the court ruled in an employee's favor. Previously, two other former Quantic Dream employees had their cases dismissed, although one has filed for an appeal.
After the reports of the offensive Photoshopped images surfaced, Quantic Dream immediately denied the allegations and eventually claimed that the company "has been the subject of a veritable smear campaign by a few media outlets, based on slanderous remarks whose reliability and origin of the sources raise questions." Quantic Dream then sued the publication Le Monde and website Mediapart for their reporting based around the images and the developer's workplace culture.
Other reports also suggest that Quantic Dream heads David Cage and Guillaume de Fondaumière often indulge in inappropriate behavior, as well as ignore that kind of behavior by other employees. They are both accused of allowing sexist and racist jokes in the workplace, as well as overworking staff.
The allegations against Quantic Dream are nothing new in the video game industry. There are many stories on social media about the general toxic workplace culture at various game development companies. At least one court agrees that Quantic Dream is guilty of providing a negative workplace environment. Perhaps with this court favoring an employee, other employees at development companies will start speaking out. No one can expect the industry to change overnight, but this is still a first step in the right direction.