Numerous Lab Zero employees have called it quits due to the reported poor behaviour of studio head Mike Zaimont.
As reported by IGN, Zaimont was supposed to be investigated due to inappropriate behaviour, namely making sexual comments towards two members of staff. However, the investigation is said to have never happened, and as a result, several employees have taken a stand, refusing to stand for the abuse.
Taking to Twitter (below), the studio's former animator and art director Mariel Cartwright explained how she had worked with Zaimont for 10 years, considering him to be a close friend, but that his recent behaviour had opened many eyes – "It's not 'well, Mike is kind of a jerk, but he's not a bad guy,' anymore. It's 'Mike is not the person we thought he was.'"
"He doesn't respect employees who don't work all hours. He gets hostile and talks down to people. He makes jokes about firing people to their faces. He makes inappropriate jokes about his dick. He threatens and insults people and our partners, both directly and in public. He straight-up lies, or misrepresents things he said earlier," said Cartwright.
I've resigned from Lab Zero Games. pic.twitter.com/I0dazMz4XB— Kinuko (@kinucakes) August 24, 2020
Time to walk
Cartwright is not the only staff member to take their leave. After eight years with Lab Zero, Jonathan Kim chose to leave his role as a senior animator. He cited not only Zaimont's behaviour as the reason for his decision, but that the company "was to become an employee-owned company, where everyone would have the equity, and the workers would enjoy the benefits of their work."
However, Zaimont owns 100 per cent of the company and has done since March, meaning Lab Zero did not become employee-owned as promised. Furthermore, he has refused to leave the company in a peaceful manner, causing his employees to go instead.
"Almost every employee had a story where Mike abused his position of power to put his coworkers in uncomfortable, stressful situations for years, which include: frequently mentioning his genitals, forcing unwanted physical contact, making sexual comments about himself or about employee's bodies, insulting coworkers privately or openly in front of other coworkers, or using very personal details to threaten or demean coworkers when they didn't go along with what he wanted or act in a way he wished," said Kim.
To top it off, Brian Jun, a former Lab Zero artist, left the company on account of how difficult it would be to remove Zaimont from the company.