Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry publisher Ubisoft is the target of a new complaint filed in French court that accuses the company, and its long-time CEO and co-founder, Yves Guillemot, of “institutional harassment.” According to a survey released last fall, one in four Ubisoft employees has either witnessed or directly experienced misconduct.
The complaint was filed with the Bobigny criminal court yesterday on behalf of the Solidaires Informatique French worker union and two former Ubisoft employees.
“The complaint targets Ubisoft as a legal entity for institutional sexual harassment for setting up, maintaining and reinforcing 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 a statement today on Twitter, a translation of which was provided to Kotaku by one of its members.
Ubisoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment. [Update - 2:00 p.m. ET, 7/16/21: “We do not have further details to share regarding the claim filed against Ubisoft,” a spokesperson for Ubisoft told Kotaku].
The complaint also targets several current and former Ubisoft employees, including former chief creative director Serge Hascoët, and former editorial VP Tommy Francois, both of whom resigned from the company last summer following multiple reports they engaged in sexual misconduct at the company’s Paris headquarters.
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 leadership, of allowing “harassment to flourish within the company.” While Guillemot is also named in the complaint, it’s not for any activity he directly engaged in, but for being in charge of the company while these problems were open secrets.
“We believe that as a manager, he was necessarily informed,” Maude Beckers, the lawyer representing the victims in the complaint, told the French news wire service, Agence France-Presse,” based on a translation by Kotaku. “He must answer for the company’s HR policy.”
Despite being a year on from Ubisoft’s #Metoo reckoning, there are widespread concerns that the company hasn’t fully reformed.
In May, French publication Le Telegramme reported complaints from some current and former Ubisoft employees that there had been minimal changes at the company over the prior year. This prompted a letter from Guillemot himself highlighting some of the steps the company had taken, including hiring a VP of Global Diversity & Inclusivity, as well as mandatory harassment training.
But in June, Solidaires Informatique accused Ubisoft Montreal of continuing to harbor three managers accused of “harassment or toxic behavior” despite being reported by other employees. And earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that concerns over Ubisoft’s lack of follow-through had led to a “fresh round of complaints on Ubisoft’s internal message board.” Kotaku has also heard directly from several current Ubisoft employees who remain dissatisfied with the company’s ongoing response a year later.
“Any employee that had allegations and remains at Ubisoft has had their case rigorously reviewed by a third party and were either exonerated or underwent appropriate disciplinary actions,” a spokesperson for Ubisoft told Bloomberg earlier this month. “Employees who have been under investigation would not remain at Ubisoft if results of investigations warranted termination.”
Despite the new hashtag #HoldUbisoftAccountable occasionally trending on Twitter, Ubisoft has so far remained silent on its ongoing workplace complaints and the steps it’s taking to address them. Nothing was saidat its big video game showcases, the most recent of which was on June 12. On the corporate side, however, Ubisoft noted in a company report filed annually to regulators that it’s now at a “high” risk of losing talented employees due to workplace toxicity.
“Beyond the list of people mentioned above, it is the workings of this system that this complaint seeks to dismantle,” Solidaires Informatique Jeu Vidéo said in its statement.