Lab Zero Lays Off Remaining Staff Amid Abuse Allegations

“Almost every employee had a story where Mike abused his position of power…”

By Angela Marrujo Fornaca. Posted 09/07/2020 05:45 Comment on this     ShareThis

Things continue to move downhill at Lab Zero. The developer behind Skullgirls and Indivisible saw a mass exodus of employees in August following allegations of abuse by owner Mike Zaimont. Those resignations left the dev with just 11 employees, but Zaimont has revealed that the remaining staff have been laid off.

According to Zaimont, Lab Zero can no longer pay the staff’s salaries, but he is “exploring all funding options” in the hope of rehiring the team. This could prove more difficult than just acquiring the necessary funds, as the accusations levied against him aren’t exactly small potatoes. Lab Zero Senior Animator Jonathan Kim left the dev in August and revealed in a Twitter post that Zaimont began to express increasingly offensive and inappropriate behavior as the company began its transition into becoming fully employee-owned. Full ownership was transferred to Zaimont, who was to begin the process of giving staff full equity.

Instead, Zaimont’s history of abuse within the company came to a head. According to Kim:

“Almost every employee had a story where Mike abused his position of power to put his coworkers in uncomfortable stressful situations for years, which include: frequently mentioning his genitals, forcing unwanted physical contact, making sexual comments about himself or about employee’s bodies, insulting coworkers privately or in front of other coworkers, or using very personal details to threaten or demean coworkers when they didn’t go along with what he wanted or act in a way he wished. Mike covered up his behaviour by doing kind things, so when people would question him about his bad actions, he would cite his previous good deeds as reasons for why he’s allowed to do bad ones.”

Despite staff attempting to come to some sort of understanding with Zaimont throughout July and into August, he instead told them that they had until August 31 to leave the company if they were no longer happy at Lab Zero. Following these allegations going public, Skullgirls IP owner and publisher Autumn Games and Skullgirls mobile developer Hidden Variable Studios issued a joint statement expressing their support for Lab Zero’s staff and announcing they were parting ways with Lab Zero:

“Skullgirls, in all its forms, has been a product of years and years of effort from dozens of dedicated developers, artists, designers, and more. As such, Hidden Variable and Autumn are committed to investing in the ongoing development of Skullgirls without the involvement of Lab Zero or Mike Zaimont. We plan to work with the many talented individuals who are leaving Lab Zero to build new Skullgirls content moving forward.”

If Zaimont is serious about wanting to reunite the Lab Zero team — especially beyond the 11 staff members who stuck around — he likely has a steep uphill battle ahead of him that won’t be solved by just throwing money at former employees.

Source: Nintendo Life

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