Kixeye, an online-games startup in San Francisco, prides itself on its take-no-prisoners culture.
A contract employee who goes online as Qu33iousity wrote in a Tumblr post that a Kixeye manager took the brash culture too far.
Here are some of this contractor’s examples of how his manager, called “Steve” in the post, allegedly behaved:
- He called the outfits of the contractor and another black employee “thuggish.”
- He gave a dictionary to a black employee saying he spoke “ebonics” and told a Hispanic employee that he didn’t have a “wetback-to-English” version.
- He said the Hispanic employee should make jokes about his own mother being a “Mexican whore.”
The contractor says that when he challenged “Steve” on those comments, the manager allegedly proceeded to say that the company didn’t tolerate complaints about racism and that the employee was lucky that his ancestors went through slavery.
The contractor updated his post, before deleting it, to say he was in the process of taking legal action. (He never named the company, but he posted a picture of a recruiting ad Kixeye has placed in mass-transit stations throughout San Francisco.)
Kixeye, too, is taking the matter seriously.
In a statement, Kixeye CEO Will Harbin acknowledged that the charges were about his company and that something had gone amiss. The capitalisation is Harbin’s:
Five hours ago, I was shocked to learn through a blog post of a former short-term contract employee about allegations of discriminatory behaviour at KIXEYE. WE TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY. After an initial investigation we’ve taken substantial corrective action and will continue to do so as appropriate. The actions described in the blog post do not represent the cultural standards at KIXEYE (as demonstrated by our diverse and talented team) and will NOT be tolerated.
A Kixeye representative did not respond to a question on whether the company trained its managers on avoiding discriminatory behaviour.
Kixeye has been in the spotlight for discrimination before. A video bashing rivals like Zynga and EA and mocking women who played games like FarmVille was widely cited as an example of sexism in the gaming industry.
Marketing VP Brandon Barber told Slate that the company had women in senior executive roles, including its CFO and VP of engineering, and preferred to hire people who fit the company’s culture, including an appreciation for over-the-top, absurd humour.
Here are screenshots of Qu33iousity’s post.
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