Just a day after it became known that the creator of Rick and Morty 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, had been sued for sexual harassment by a former employee.
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 points out that then-CEO Tanya Watson, who co-founded the company with Roiland, collectively ignored and downplayed Doukakos’ complaints. The lawsuit further alleged that Doukakos was fired in retaliation for her complaints, and that her last salary was withheld pending the signing of a liability release.
Dixon reportedly mocked and belittled Doukakos, repeatedly hugging her without permission. Other managers and senior staff were reportedly aware of this treatment, and one of them approached Watson on behalf of Doukakos. The CEO reportedly told Doukakos “that’s just how this generation of guys is,” and encouraged her to just deal with it.
Despite not receiving positive reviews until August 2018, Doukakos was fired just three months later, with the company citing her performance as the reason. The lawsuit, meanwhile, alleged that 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.
In a correspondence with Kotaku, a Squanch spokesperson stated, “Squanch Games is committed to creating an inclusive and supportive work environment for our team. We do not disclose human resources and we stand by the decision we made in 2017, to confidential information in connection with this matter.”
The twin revelations of Roiland’s own criminal charges and the civil suit brought against the studio he founded paint a grim picture for Squanch, which has released its biggest game to date. High in life (opens in new tab)late last year.