Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry publisher Ubisoft is the target of a new lawsuit in French court accusing the company and its longtime CEO and co-founder, Yves Guillemot, of “institutional harassment.” According to a survey released last fall, one in four Ubisoft employees has done so either witnessing or directly experiencing the offense.
The complaint was filed in the Bobigny criminal court yesterday on behalf of the French workers’ association Solidaires Informatique and two former Ubisoft employees.
“The complaint is against Ubisoft as a legal entity for institutional sexual harassment to establish, maintain and strengthen a system where sexual harassment is tolerated because it is more profitable for the company to keep harassers in place than to protect its employees,” Solidaires Informatique Jeu Vidéo wrote in one statement today on Twitter, a translation provided Kotaku by one of the members.
Ubisoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.[[[[Update – 14:00 ET, 16/7/21: “We have no further details to share about the claim against Ubisoft, “said a spokesperson for Ubisoft Kotaku].
The complaint is also directed at several current and former Ubisoft employees, including former chief creative officer Serge Hascoët, and former editorial director Tommy Francois, both of whom resigned from the company last summer after several reports they committed sexual misconduct at the company’s headquarters in Paris.
Meanwhile, it holds Cecile Cornet, former head of the company’s human resources department, who was removed from that position in a sudden purge of top management, to allow “harassment to flourish in the company.” While Guillemot is also named in the complaint, it is not for any activity he was directly involved in, but to be responsible for the company while these issues were open secrets.
“We believe that he, as the leader, was necessarily informed,” Maude Beckers, the lawyer representing the victims of the complaint, told the French news agency Agence France-Presse, “based on a translation by Kotaku. “He must be responsible for the company’s HR policy.”
Despite being a year after Ubisoft’s #Metoo bill, there is widespread concern that the company has not completely reformed.
In May, French publication The Telegram reported complaints from some current and former Ubisoft employees that there had been minimal changes in the company the year before. This requested a letter from Guillemot himself highlight some of the steps the company had taken, including hiring a VP for Global Diversity & Inclusivity, as well as mandatory harassment training.
But in June, Solidaires Informatique accused Ubisoft Montreal to continue to have three executives accused of “harassment or toxic behavior” despite being reported by other employees. And earlier this month, Bloomberg reported concerns about Ubisoft’s lack of follow-up had led to a “recent round of complaints on Ubisoft’s internal bulletin board.” Kotaku has also heard directly from several current Ubisoft employees who are still dissatisfied with the company’s ongoing response a year later.
“Any employee who had claims and remains with Ubisoft has had his case thoroughly reviewed by a third party and was either exempted or subjected to appropriate disciplinary action,” a Ubisoft spokesman said. told Bloomberg earlier this month. “Employees who have been under investigation will not remain with Ubisoft if the results of the investigation warrant termination.”
Despite the new hashtag #HoldUbisoftAccountable sometimes trends on Twitter, Ubisoft has so far been quiet about its ongoing workload complaints and the steps it takes to resolve them. Nothing was said at the big video game shows, the last was June 12th. On the corporate side, however, Ubisoft noted in a company report that is archived annually to regulators that it is now with a “high” risk of losing talented employees due to workplace toxicity.
“Beyond the list of persons mentioned above, it is the function of this system that this complaint seeks to dismantle,” Solidaires Informatique Jeu Vidéo said in its statement.