Just one day after it came to light that Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland was arrested (opens in new tab) on charges of domestic violence and false imprisonment in 2020, Kotaku (opens in new tab) revealed that the studio he founded, Squanch Games, was sued by a former employee over sexual harassment.
The lawsuit alleged that designer Sarah Doukakos was repeatedly harassed by a supervisor, technical director Jeff Dixon, and that Doukakos' numerous formal complaints were ignored by management. The lawsuit singles out then-CEO Tanya Watson, who co-founded the company with Roiland, as having concertedly ignored and downplayed Doukakos' complaints. The lawsuit further alleged that Doukakos was fired in retaliation for her complaints, and that her final paycheck was withheld pending her signing a liability release.
Dixon reportedly mocked and belittled Doukakos, and would repeatedly hug her without consent. Other managers and senior employees were reportedly aware of this treatment, with one of them approaching Watson on Doukakos' behalf. The CEO allegedly told Doukakos "that's just how this generation of guys are," and encouraged her to simply deal with it.
Despite receiving positive reviews as late as August 2018, Doukakos was fired just three months later, with the company citing her performance as a reason. The lawsuit, meanwhile, alleged this termination was in retaliation for Doukakos' complaints about Dixon. Squanch eventually settled out of court with Doukakos in September 2019, while Dixon and Watson are no longer employed by the company.
Corresponding with Kotaku, a Squanch spokesperson stated: "Squanch Games is committed to creating an inclusive and supportive work environment for our team. We don’t publicly disclose personnel matters, and we stand by the decision we made in 2017, not to reveal the confidential information as it relates to this case."
The dual revelations of Roiland's own criminal charges and the civil suit brought against the studio he founded paint a grim picture for Squanch, which saw its biggest game release to date, High on Life (opens in new tab), at the end of last year.