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Rooster Teeth tells staff it's working to improve on "past transgressions"

Internal memo admits "things should have been handled differently" but refers to unpaid VO work as a "perk"

Following the report by former director Kdin Jenzen about Rooster Teeth's alleged culture of harassment and crunch, an internal statement signed 'Jordan' (believed to be Rooster Teeth general manager Jordan Levin) addressing the situation was sent to staff, repeatedly referring to the issues as "past events."

The email was forwarded to the entire company by Rooster Teeth's HR team on behalf of Levin. GamesIndustry.biz has since obtained a copy of this message and reviewed it.

In his message, Levin said he is "not denying the existence of past events," and highlighted changes made at the company since the "reckoning" of 2020, including the pay review that was mentioned in the official statement.

He also talked of wishing that issues wouldn't be "taken to the court of public opinion," adding: "Issues are much easier to address when they can be handled internally, but that is not the nature of our business."

He also put the emphasis on Jenzen's accusations being "from so long ago."

"This is a difficult and disheartening situation for so many reasons," Levin wrote. "We are working on evolving a culture we can be proud of based on past transgressions, but when new things come to light that happened in the past, it takes some time to get a clear picture. We want to fix things quickly, things like issues and things like pain, but we also need to audit things properly."

Directly addressing the claims that Jenzen was unpaid for VO work over the years, Levin said it was being investigated internally but that VO work at Rooster Teeth has historically been volunteer work that should be seen as a "perk."

"You have seen the internal casting calls from the audio team to volunteer for VO talent, which has historically been offered as a perk for RT employees and not an obligation. We are currently unaware of any attempts to negotiate compensation for this work but will continue investigating to ensure there is not an agreement that is outstanding."

He also said that "the statements around not supporting the queer community or our BIPOC employees are untrue as far as [his] understanding goes."

"There is so much to be proud of, but there were also things that should have been handled differently," he wrote. "We are not denying the existence of past events, and I am fully aware that I stand in the shoes of past leadership so frequently referenced. From my position, I can acknowledge the gaps and lack of proper process in handling prior issues, and I am so sorry for the experiences we have learned about that many went through in years past."

Levin joined Rooster Teeth as general manager in 2019. In her report, Jenzen referred to issues up to mid-2021.

Levin pointed to the appointment of a new HR team as an indication of the changes occuring, as well as a specific hire for "people and culture." He also highlighted the existence of "systems and processes in place to properly report, investigate and address issues."

Concluding the statement, he said that, going forward, Rooster Teeth hopes to "communicate publicly in a manner that can be more directly pointed and supportive as we have done so in the past, now that we have sent our blanket statement." Internally, he added, leadership "will begin to coordinate some group sessions to gain greater input and perspective."

GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to Rooster Teeth for comment.

Since Jenzen's original report, another controversy grew as a video surfaced showing her using a slur. She reacted on Twitter, saying that she had publicly apologised for it before and would "like to apologise again as [she] should have known better and [does] know better now." She then published an additional statement on TwitLonger, saying that her apology was "lacklustre."

"I am fully aware that my past behaviour and words were egregious, and to some, including myself unforgivable," she wrote, then highlighting her work in minority-led resource groups at Rooster Teeth over the years.

She added: "I know [I] can't take back those words I said all those years ago, I can only continue to be better. I know all of this coming to light has detracted from the message and that I indeed was part of the problem for some time. I’m not that person anymore and I hope who I was doesn’t negate what RT has done."

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Marie Dealessandri

Deputy Editor

Marie Dealessandri joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2019 to head its Academy section. A journalist since 2012, she started in games in 2016 at B2B magazine MCV. She can be found (rarely) tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate and the Dead Cells soundtrack. GI resident Moomins expert.