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Ex-Rooster Teeth employees allege years of harassment and low pay

Various ex-Rooster Teeth staffers have described a years-long culture of harassment, underpay and crunch culture at the entertainment company.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

October 17, 2022

2 Min Read
Company logo for Rooster Teeth Productions.

Former employees at media company Rooster Teeth Productions spoke out over the weekend about their negative experiences at the company. Those incidents, according to the various employees, range from racism and low pay to workplace harassment. 

Based in Austin, TX, Rooster Teeth is the company behind the Halo web series Red vs. Blue, and the anime series RWBY. It opened a game division in 2017 and has released several games for RWBY, including an upcoming title co-developed by WayForward. 

The initial allegations came from former employee Kdin Jenzen, who left the company earlier this year. Jenzen alleged that within weeks of being there, coworkers were barraging her with homophobic slurs, both directly and indirectly. She spent years reporting these instances to HR, but says nothing ever came of those complaints. 

"I was waved away saying ‘IT’S JUST A JOKE! Ignore the comments!’," recalled Jenzen. After coming out as transgender in 2016, she said that the way she was treated "did not change at all" and "actively became worse."

"My acting manager began to harass me and lie to the community any time I was ‘planned to be on camera and couldn’t show up.'"

Jenzen added that her work hours at Rooster Teeth would routinely start at 7 am and last until 11 pm, and that she was underpaid during her time there.

"Rooster Teeth has been underpaying me for years, my raises were frozen by my manager at the time, and because of that I never received a proper raise even up until I quit earlier this year."

Rooster Teeth's issues run deep

Following Jenzen's post, other ex-Rooster Teeth staff shared stories about their own experiences at the company. In many of these instances, the ex-staffers said that they were dismissed by HR (who, at the time, was also the chief financial officer) , or brushed off by superiors.

Specific incidents include being made to work during Texas' winter storm in 2021 and crunch across the studio's various animation and live action departments.

In the case of crunch and overwork, Rooster Teeth's Animation division previously faced allegations in 2019. Those allegations resulted in the departure of then-animation head Grey Haddock.

In response to Jenzen's claims, Rooster Teeth released a statement of its own on Sunday. The company stated that it's "faced inevitable mistakes and interpersonal challenges” since forming in 2003. "Many individuals at Rooster Teeth acknowledged personal responsibility for their actions both internally and externally.”

"Our dedication to change has included the valuable input of many team members across the company. [...] As we mature in our 20th year, we will continue to move forward together as a passionate, creative company and community with open hearts and minds."

Game Developer has reached out to Rooster Teeth and will update this story when a response is given. 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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