Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

April 6, 2009 -

Jamie Durrant, a gay graphics designer whose credits include AAA titles such as Fable, Black & White and The Movies, has settled a harassment complaint against Microsoft.

As GamePolitics recently reported, Durrant, formerly of Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios, claimed that Xbox coworkers targeted him with abusive comments and notes.

Pink News cites a Microsoft statement on the settlement:

We are pleased to have reached an amicable resolution to this matter with Mr. Durrant. The terms of the settlement are confidential, but we can confirm that Mr. Durrant will not continue his employment at Lionhead as part of the agreement.

Microsoft has a longstanding commitment to diversity. We attract, recruit and respect diverse talent and we have included sexual orientation in our anti-discrimination policies for 20 years.

Our efforts have been recognised by a wide range of groups, including the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in its 2009 Corporate Equality Index. We do not tolerate breaches of our code of business conduct and take any complaints extremely seriously.

Via: gamesindustry.biz


Comments

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Well wahoo, another stupid lawsuit making sexuality into a public matter rather than a private one.

What a ridiculous thing to have to go through, for either of them. It's a place of business, all sexualities, and 'homophobes' or whatever you want to call the groups surrounding them, need to buck up and show some dignity in the workplace. It's a business, an office! If the gay dude was bothering you with his sexuality, tell him about it to his face with some diginity, don't harass him!

=/ Of course, it's equally possible that they did and went into harassment when this guy used his sexuality like PETA uses veganism, as a way to be 'unique' and 'special'.

I will not buy securom games. http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message1.jpg and http://www.wolvenmoon.com/sharedfiles/message2.jpg

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

And don't forget, all because of a way that a certain passage in a Bible that some people say that exisists, homosexuals are denied marridge.

And JT is just one of those people who likes to bash and use legal threats against anyone who is a homosexual who also works in the media.

There are just some people in this world who are brought up with homophobia in their society and it is hard to change that individual.

It is even hard to change recism belifes when someone who was younger was brought up on laws that denied equal rights for certain people.

I believe that as a society, we still have elements of racism, sexism and homophobia that stops allot of people from freely expressing themselves from the fear of being teased or bullied and when they try to stop it, they are told that "it's just a joke" and feel bad because they are not being heard.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

When I was being harrassed at work, and often it was in a sexual taunting way, I just quit my job and decided to get a new one.

Sad thing was, I quit at the wrong time.

Just as things were getting bad with the economy, I now find myself in a situration where I find it hard just to find work.

So I think the real thing here is, if you are working. DON'T tell your co-workers about yourself that could open you to let them attack you personally.

It is a sad truth that some people who work will bully other co-workers.

The same goes for school. You can't even talk about your favorite things unless if you are prepared for some bully to tease you about your favorite interests.

Microsoft needs to understand this problem in order to resolve conflicts like this.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

"Who doesn't make hetero and homo jokes at home with friends?"

Me and all of my friends who aren't bigots? Tell me, how can we meet more people like you?

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

I'm in this boat too, i've grown up with a lot of gay and bi friends, any jokes i could make would not offend even the most sensitive gay person.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

What a pussy.

Who doesn't make hetero and homo jokes at home with friends? (ok i am expecting some retorts here now that YOU don't make those jokes) He couldn't take the jokes, boo hoo.  Grow a sack and get your job done.  Why take off 1/2 a year of work cause somebody teased you?

Society is too PC for my tastes now a days, and I'm only 32.

 

Trevor Gray ganjookie@yahoo.com

Trevor Gray
ganjookie@yahoo.com

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Do we know they were just joking? Do we know how far they took the jokes if they were? I have heard of some pretty cruel things being done in the name of "just joking".

I wouldn't dream of writing this off as just joking. Sure the jokes can be funny at first or at least something that can be brushed off, but if they continue into the months or years and get increasingly more cruel, it sure is grounds for a harrassment suit. Especially if you have appealled to all the proper channels to do something about it.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Even the things the Telegraph reported on, are far beyond joking, and that's just a selection of the entire picture, most likely far more 'jokes' were made. And they had pulled stuff before, the guy dealt with that himself, but then the mails came.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Well sure if they continued on for months and this guy never did anything, or, if he did then they did not stop per his repeated requests to stop, some action should have been taken.  Moving him to another department, offerening him a new work email, or a myriad of other actions. 

He decided to take off 6 months and then sue in the end. (no pun intended, well okay maybe a little)

 

Trevor Gray ganjookie@yahoo.com

Trevor Gray
ganjookie@yahoo.com

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Judging from what you say, you didn't bother reading the article before spewing your opinion. How intriguing.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

I read it again, and still have not changed my opinion.

Trevor Gray ganjookie@yahoo.com

Trevor Gray
ganjookie@yahoo.com

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

 Then you're an asshat.

Months and months of harassment, company wide emails calling him 'Fag Boy Jim', nobody doing anything about it, and he should just laugh it off? You are messed up dude.

Yes, there are a lot of people who will take the smallest comment and try to sue someone because of 'hurt feelings'. In my opinion, this is not one of those cases.

You come off as pretty damn ignorant.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

If somebody was harrassing me for months and my complaints to HR fell on deaf ears, I would find a new job.

I wouldn't wait for months to go by before I took a leave of absence.

Then again this is me, and my opinion.  This guy is obviously way different from me and put up with the harassment.

I may be an asshat, but I won't put up with crap from people at my workplace. Hell, I was mocked as a child for things, which probably gave me a thicker skin then Jim here.  I didnt know how to deal with the kids, so I just left them to their own devices and did my own thing with my friends.  Maybe Jim should find a gay-friendly workplace, where he can mock the lone hetero guy in the office.

Gay people have it hard in this world, many people are prejudiced towards that sexual orientation.  He knows this of course, and should expect it. That way he will be able to deal with the comments made towards him.

Trevor Gray ganjookie@yahoo.com

Trevor Gray
ganjookie@yahoo.com

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

"If somebody was harrassing me for months and my complaints to HR fell on deaf ears, I would find a new job."

That's easy say when it's not your job, or a job you don't particularly like. It's also a bit of a fantasy, in today's economy, to assume getting a job is as easy as "finding" one. Why risk a steady income on an unknown job prospect when it might be safer to force your current employer to act?

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

That's probably because you're a bullying dick yourself.

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

I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

I'm really not not, but to each our own.

 

Trevor Gray ganjookie@yahoo.com

Trevor Gray
ganjookie@yahoo.com

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Yes, after waiting months for the company to email the staff like they promised to do, and when he asked about it, hearing that they had to change the rules before they could do that, and being asked to sign a waiver saying "Yay, I'm so happy you guys are dealing with my complaint!", he eventually got so depressed that he was signed off sick, and ended up being on half pay for months. How evil of him.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

"Microsoft has a longstanding commitment to diversity"

Unless you're openly gay in your Gamertag anyway.

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

I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

or have the letters "gay" in your name.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Yeesh how does Microshaft know that Gay means homosexual...perhaps the tag "Gaygamer" is a Happy Gamer? :P

(sarcasim for the win?)

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Oh come on, thats totally reasonable to ban someone.

The person is inconsiderate for not changing their name.

/sarcasm

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Microsoft stated they would remove statements about any sexuality from gamer tags, whether it be hetrosexual, bisexual or homosexual.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

The only reason they do that, however, is to avoid the appearance of bias. I expect they have no particular desire to ban references to "straight", but their desire to ban references to "gay" leads them to adopt a token attitude against all expressions of sexual orientation.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

I think we both know 'StraightGamer' would fare far better than 'GayGamer'

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

I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

You know, I don't think anyone should be discriminated against, and they should be able to be comfortable in their work environment.  But I've always been leery of this sort of thing.  So because he couldn't find a solution with his coworkers, it's ok to extort money from the company?

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Well, who is else is supposed to be responsible for failing to ensure a cofortable work envionment?

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

I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Seriously?  If I have a problem at work, I talk to the people involved.  If that fails, I take it up with the manager or supervisor, and try to resolve the issue with as little antagonism as possible.  And after that,  if the problem persists, I just learn to ignore or avoid them.  I don't go home at night and pout that "people are being mean to me, I should sue." 

You know, because I'm an adult.

Meh, mostly my issue is that our society is too prone to litigation to solve our problems and getting paid for nothing.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

"You know, because I'm an adult."

You are an adult, yet you make such naive statements as the above. That's not a sign of maturity.

Depending on the kind of harassment involved, it might not be as easy for him to ignore it as it has been for you. If Microsoft knew but didn't do anything to stop the harassment, they should be held liable.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

And I'm saying it shouldn't be a company's job to have to babysit its employees all day.  This isn't a new phenomenon, people have been mocking other people for thousands of years.  Why did it suddenly become the responsiblity of employers to solve everything?  Like I sad before, maybe I'm jaded, but I think people should deal with thier own problems.  I think the company should take a certain level of steps to prevent or discourage certain behavior, but at some point, they be held accountable for what others do.  I consider most of these type of lawsuits to be frivilous and unfair.  If you want to hurt someone with litigation, then hurt the people that were mocking you.

Also, I don't feel like my comments were naive and immature, but since you didn't quantify why they were, I'm just going to assume you simply disagree and resorted to name-calling.  Like that's mature.  :D

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

"And I'm saying it shouldn't be a company's job to have to babysit its employees all day."

In our society, employers are one of the few with the power to legitimately put a stop to workplace discrimination.

Outside of work, a person being bullied might opt to physically retaliate against those who engage in bullying, and the situation would then either escalate into a more serious fight or else it would stop. People at work don't realistically have such an option, which leaves the people in charge to resolve it. The government, in an attempt to discourage the people in charge from ignoring these problems (as it seems you might do in their place), has decided it's good policy to hold employers liable for ignoring abuse of their employees by other employees.

"Also, I don't feel like my comments were naive and immature, but since you didn't quantify why they were, I'm just going to assume you simply disagree and resorted to name-calling."

You accuse me of name-calling, but isn't that what you were doing when you said that you, unlike the plaintiff who chose to sue rather than suck it up, are an adult? Any name calling I have engaged in is squarely aimed at your own arrogant presumption of superior maturity. I'm suggesting your presumption is unwarranted. If that constitutes name calling, I am proud to have called you names.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

"Why did it suddenly become the responsiblity of employers to solve everything?"

You mean using company's resources to send around such actions, while the company takes no steps at all to prevent or discourage the behaviour, is perfectly okay?

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Did you even read the article?

"He has been signed off sick for depression for seven months and is demanding £45,000 in compensation for lost earnings and injury to feelings."

"He said: "I feel I should be compensated for the stress that this whole complaint procedure has placed on me, the amount of effort and time I have put into trying to get this resolved and acknowledgment that they have done nothing whilst the homophobic harassment continued, making my workplace uncomfortable and unpleasant." "

"He was signed off sick for depression in August last year and is still on half pay."

This isn't a case of "Boohoo, I'll sue for a million". He lost income due to his depression caused by this.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

I don't personally believe that his "depression" was real.  If I had an issue with a co-worker I could not resolve and the ocompany wouldn't help.  I'd go look for a new job in that 6 months.  I think this is a case of "haha I can sue for monies now"

 

Trevor Gray ganjookie@yahoo.com

Trevor Gray
ganjookie@yahoo.com

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Unlike some other lawsuits we have seen he was not sueing for lots of money... people who make up false crap just so they can sue tend to sue for riducilous amounts of money. Depending on how much he gets paid, the amount of money he was sueing for was relatively tame... part of it was to get back the money he would have made if he had been working the whole time, and then extra for his personal issues... the fact that the amount was tame compared to those who sue for hundreds of thousnads of dollars seems to tell me that he was quite serious about all this; he wants nothing more than compensation.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

This is how I see it.  Maybe I'm just jaded, but I don't automatically trust someone when they say they've been bullied by their co-workers and obviously the solution is a big payoff.

I spent decades being kicked around and being mocked.  But after a while, I learned that the only one that can inflict emotional scars on you, is you.  To hell with whatever other people say!  Either get in on the joke, turn it around on them and ridicule them, or whatever.  But don't sit there and let yourself spiral into a depression.  Boo hoo.

It's not just about homosexuals, or people of a particular ethnicity, or women.  Everyone gets made fun of.  Fat people, nerdy people, the socailly inept, the chronically dateless, the pathetically lazy, married people, the person that knows waaay too much about sports and doesn't shut up about it, the old guy that tells a thousand off the wall stories from his youth.  Making jokes at other people's expense is part of being the group, you just have to learn to not take it too seriously.  Maybe some people think we should all huddle around in a big group hug and and share our feelings, but it's just not the way the world works.

Now, maybe this guy really was a victim of continual, mean-spirited harassment intended to make him feel like less of a person.  And if that's the case, then I openly admit tha I'm a jackass.  But I'm not going to take his word for it over anyone else's.  I'm not involved, and niether are any of you.  We are simply basing our opinions based on our own experiences.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Edited post.

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

"Now, maybe this guy really was a victim of continual, mean-spirited harassment intended to make him feel like less of a person.  And if that's the case, then I openly admit tha I'm a jackass."

Judging from the fact you're not admitting that, I assume you're calling him a liar regarding the steps he took, regarding the examples of mailheaders that were sent out, regarding the history leading up to the point where they took it beyond where he himself could deal with it?

I assume you also claim it was not depression that caused him to sit home for over half a year with half pay? That things like a circulated-to-the-entire-company nickname "Fag boy Jim" isn't mean-spirited harasssment intended to make him feel like less of a person, but just a joke at his expense that shouldn't be taken seriously?

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

"But don't sit there and let yourself spiral into a depression.  Boo hoo."

That's unfortunately a common attitude among those who have suffered abuse in the past. "I was bullied and I survived it, so quit being such a pussy."

Such an attitude perpetuates the twisted notion that being bullied is a rite of passage... except that not everybody is bullied to an equal extent. It's not fair to blame the victim for failing to overcome his being bullied.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

+1

I am 100% in agreement.

 

Trevor Gray ganjookie@yahoo.com

Trevor Gray
ganjookie@yahoo.com

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

And from the sound of the statement, what MS has done is said "We aren't sacking the homophobes, here's more money than what you were after, please leave quietly."

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

I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Well depending on how many co-workers where making these disparaging remarks, or jokes. It may be easier financially to let the depressed gay man go rather then letting a whole team of devs go.

Trevor Gray ganjookie@yahoo.com

Trevor Gray
ganjookie@yahoo.com

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

There is a certain amount of subjectivity here.

One man's harmless banter may be another's homophobic remark.  It's unlikely that the behaviour of any individual was sufficient for anything more than a verbal warning. 

What should have happened is that he told his manager the banter was getting out of hand, the manager should have told people to cut it out.  It sounds like the guy would have been satisfied with this, but Lionhead didn't even manage that.  


Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

Why would you think that didn't happen here?  I imagine if he even tried to skip the "talk to my immediate superior and try to get them to cut it out" step, MS/LH wouldn't have even considered paying him off to leave.  It's a lot cheaper to just tell the other guys to cut it out and see if that works.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

The earlier stories about this had a little more detail. 

Seems the guy made a complaint.  He agreed that he'd be happy if HR sent an email telling people to stop (It really sounds as if he wanted to cause as little problem as possible to get the hassle to stop).  So all Microsoft HR needed to do was send an email reminding people of the diversity policy, and to cut out the banter. 

They didn't even manage this and gave an excuse that they had to draw up new policies before sending an email. 

Would have certainly been cheaper and easier for them to have sent an email.  This is more a case of incompetence than malice. 

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

"One man's harmless banter may be another's homophobic remark.  It's unlikely that the behaviour of any individual was sufficient for anything more than a verbal warning."

Jamie Durrant, 38, who is homosexual, is suing Microsoft for £45,000 for "hurt feelings" because he says he was called by nicknames including 'Fag Boy Jim'.

Mr Durrant claims that mocking messages were circulated with headings including 'I'm Jim and I'm Gay', 'Me and My Favourite Men' and 'Ladies Are Bad'.

A message about 'Fag Boy Jim' was allegedly put up in the office's shared kitchen.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

The people who were making it uncomfortable? If I ran a business and found one of my employees was making racist, sexist or homophobic comments to another employee or anyone else on company time then they would be the one to be fired.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

exactly. Microsoft failed to do this, and now they pay.

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

But if they failed, don't straight think about this "cheerful" accident, because way back in the day when they had the Java Sharepoint conflict (the infamous "code leak") , they had much more complaints...

Re: Microsoft Settles Gay Developer's Harassment Complaint

I imagine the settlement's going to have been quite large for "Hey, you don't have a job anymore" to be considered amicable.

 
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