UPDATE (23/07/2020): A representative from Solidaires Informatique told us that it decided to act because the revelations "didn't stop" after the initial wave. Marc Rutschlé, who oversees the Ubisoft Paris section of Solidaires Informatique, says the organization wants to "support workers". He says the ideal outcome for the organization is the harassment culture at Ubisoft ending, along with reparations and justice for the victims. According to Rutschlé, the collective action just covers France, but "if there are people from other countries" who worked at Ubisoft's France offices who were harassed or assaulted, they can join the action. Original story follows below.
French union Solidaires Informatique has declared that it is to pursue legal action against Ubisoft. The stated aim of Solidaires Informatique is to seek explanation and reparation for the "repeated acts of harassment and sexual assault" and discrimination that Ubisoft employees have endured.
What are the terms of Solidaires Informatique's lawsuit against Ubisoft?
The news comes via the organization's official website. In the initial announcement, Solidaires Informatique says that the exclusion of prominent individuals such as Serge Hascoët "is not enough" and that individuals who have benefited from the culture of discrimination are still "hiding under their leadership". The union goes on to say that it intends to challenge the "whole sexist, homophobic, and racist culture" that it views as endemic in the entire gaming industry.
Solidaires Informatique points to what it calls a "company policy that values its profits before the health and safety of its employees". The organization quotes former Ubisoft HR director Cécile Cornet, who said that Yves Guillemot is fine with toxic management as long as the managers exhibiting that behavior get results. Solidaires Informatique invites victims of Ubisoft's actions or associations to get in touch with them in order to build the action. Leading the defense of the action is lawyer Maude Beckers, who specializes in labor law and discrimination. Solidaires Informatique says it guarantees total anonymity and you don't need to be a union member to be protected.
What is the backdrop for this action against Ubisoft?
The gaming industry has found itself at the center of a storm of sexual misconduct and harassment allegations in the last few months. In June, Ubisoft placed two employees, Tommy François and Maxime Béland, on leave (thanks, Verge), and launched an investigation into harassment allegations against them. Major gaming studios and personalities like Insomniac Games (thanks, GamesIndustry.biz) and Chris Avellone have also been accused of inappropriate conduct towards female employees and colleagues.
This lawsuit also comes a short time after a critical report by Bloomberg's Jason Schreier. In the report, Schreier details how Ubisoft intentionally blocked female leads in its tentpole Assassin's Creed franchise. In addition, Schreier echoes the claims of Solidaires Informatique, stating that Ubisoft's corporate culture allowed a number of individuals such as creative director Serge Hascoët to exhibit sexist, racist, and sexually harassing behavior without punishment.
How has Ubisoft responded to these claims?
In response to these allegations, Ubisoft says it has "fallen short in its obligation to guarantee a safe and inclusive workplace environment for its employees" and that it will implement "profound changes across the company" to rectify the situation. Early steps to rectify this included having creative director Hascoët, as well as head of HR Cécile Cornet and managing director of Ubisoft's Canadian studios Yannis Mallat, leave the company while they bring in an outside firm to conduct a review of the company's HR policies for overhaul.
It's not yet clear to which of Ubisoft's many worldwide studios this lawsuit applies. Ubisoft is a company which has headquarters in many countries, not all of which answer to the same EU laws that its main office in France does. We've reached out to Solidaires Informatique, lawyer Maude Beckers, and Ubisoft for comment on this story.