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Microsoft settles homophobia case

By James Lee

Mon 06 Apr 2009 7:30am GMT / 3:30am EDT / 12:30am PDT

Lionhead developer paid undisclosed sum in compensation for workplace abuse

Lionhead Studios

In 1987 Peter Molyneux founded Bullfrog Productions, along with his then partner Les Edgar in Guildford,...

Microsoft has paid an out of court settlement to videogames developer Jamie Durrant, who sued the company over claims of unaddressed homophobia within the company's Lionhead Studios.

The unspecified payout has settled the case, in which Durrant was asking for GBP 45,000 over "hurt feelings", after his complaints of homophobic abuse were "blatantly disregarded" by Microsoft's human resources department.

"We are pleased to have reached an amicable resolution to this matter with Mr. Durrant," said a Microsoft spokesman, according to PinkNews. "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.

"Throughout this process, those to whom Mr. Durrant brought his concerns have taken them seriously and concrete actions have been taken to address them. "Neither Mr. Durrant's sexual orientation nor the nature of his complaint had any bearing on the way it was handled," added the company.

During his time at Lionhead, Durrant claimed the company changed under Microsoft's ownership, when he started to receive a number of emails mocking his sexuality with titles such as "fag boy Jim".

Earlier this month, Peter Molyneux dismissed such claims, telling "everybody is happier and they feel more empowered and more creative than they've ever felt before".

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