Quantic Dream ordered to pay former employee over failed 'security obligations'

(Image credit: Quantic Dream)

In early 2018, a joint report filed by French outlets Le Mode, Mediapart, and Canard PC detailed allegations of widespread sexism, homophobia, and other inappropriate behavior at Quantic Dream, the developer of games including Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human. As so often happens, the courts soon became involved, as current and former employees sued Quantic Dream, and Quantic Dream actually sued two of the outlets that published the report.

As reported by Mediapart (via Try aGame and ResetEra), Quantic Dream has taken a partial loss in one action filed by a former IT manager over offensive images described by a judge as "homophobic, misogynistic, racist or deeply vulgar," that were created by other employees and shared among members of the studio. As a result, the studio has been ordered to pay the ex-employee €5000 ($5504) in compensation, as well as €2000 ($2201) in in legal costs.

Interestingly, the judgment was not directly related to the content of the images, but because the images eventually became public after Quantic Dream failed to halt their creation and sharing of the images—a breach of its obligation to protect the former employee's "security." The Google translation is a bit messy—"remaining passive in the face of this practice more than questionable, which can not be justified by the 'humorous' spirit of which the company avails itself, the employer has committed a breach of the obligation of security"—but the studio essentially confirmed the nature of the decision in a statement portraying it as a win overall.

"The judge rejected all of the ex-employee's principal requests, deeming very clearly that the 'Super Nanny' image did not justify their claim and that there was no deterioration of their working conditions in the company. The judge further ruled that company management reacted appropriately, by taking all necessary measures on the day of the incident in question," Quantic Dream said.

"The ex-employee only obtained compensation of €5000 (plus €2000 in costs) in respect of a 'security obligation': Although these images were created outside of regular office hours and no complaints were made, the company should have anticipated the possibility of said images getting out of control, since they were created on company premises."

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The "principal request" noted by Quantic Dream refers to the former employee's request to have their resignation be recognized as an unlawful dismissal. As Eurogamer reported last year, employees who quit their jobs because of unacceptable working conditions can then petition to have the departure categorized as an unfair dismissal. It's a potentially risky maneuver, because if the petition is rejected, the former employee ends up with nothing; but if it's successful, the employee could be eligible for unemployment and compensation.

Quantic Dream said that it will not appeal the ruling, but the complainant in the case will: The report says that they're seeking a judgment on another photo, which has their face superimposed on the body of a man with a Hitler moustache, wearing a garter belt, whose arm is extended in a Nazi salute. That image apparently wasn't considered as part of the judgment.

The report also says that a hearing in Quantic Dream's lawsuit against Mediapart and Le Monde is scheduled to take place December 5-6, although a general strike scheduled for December 5 could push that back.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.