Kdin Jenzen, a transgender former employee of the video game and entertainment company Rooster Teeth, said that while working as a voice actor and video editor for the company, she was regularly cheated out of wages, called anti-gay slurs, denied coverage for transition-related healthcare, treated as a diversity hire, and then ignored when she reported her mistreatment to the company’s human resources (HR) department.
In a public post, Jenzen said that she worked for Rooster Teeth — the developers behind such video games as Bendy and the Ink Machine, Super Rad Raygun, and the RWBY series — from 2013 to 2022. Rooster Teeth is a division of Warner Bros. Discovery as of earlier this year.
During that time, she said she regularly worked 14- and 16-hour days and was mostly not paid for any freelance work she did before becoming an official employee. When she asked for the back pay she was allegedly told, “It’s been so long already, it’s not really a big deal is it?”
She said her coworkers also nicknamed her “fa**ot” (or “fugz” for short) and referred to her by this nickname in videos that remain viewable by the company’s estimated 37 million social media followers. She reported this and other harassment to HR officials, but she said they did nothing to stop the mistreatment. Instead, she was told to ignore the mistreatment as “jokes.”
After she came out as transgender in 2016, she said some of her coworkers praised her online, but the harassment she received at work worsened. Her work on company content went uncredited and she was underpaid for her work by tens of thousands of dollars, she said.
Other times, her acting manager reportedly told the company’s broadcast viewers that she was expected to be on camera but didn’t bother to show up. In reality, she said, she hadn’t been informed about the expectation and was working in part of the office where it was easy to ignore her.
“People had no idea how to deal with a trans woman, so I was interacted with even less and only trotted out every so often to show off ‘We Hire LGBTQIA+ People!'” Jenzen wrote.
After undergoing a life-saving medical procedure, she said she had to take two weeks off to recover. During this time, an event she helped organize, the 2021 Anniversary Stream Event, was held. In her absence, her co-coordinator allegedly took all the credit and blamed her for anything that went wrong.
She began to “spiral into a deep depression,” she wrote. “I then went to one of the founding fathers of the company to express my concerns, and was told that I was ‘too nice to work at Rooster Teeth’ and that I should ‘just quit and find somewhere else to work’ — I was horrified.”
Throughout her time there, she also went into “horrible amounts of medical debt” paying for transition-related care despite the fact that the company assured her that it would be “completely covered” by employee insurance.
Though she helped run a company business resource group for LGBTQ employees, she said she was told that the company had “done enough for the queer community.”
“We had barely accomplished anything and were still struggling to have accurate representation on screen as most of our PRIDE stream events featured mostly Cis/Het talent still,” Jenzen added.
“I left Rooster Teeth because, despite thinking I could make positive change in the company, they proved that I couldn’t every step of the way,” she concluded. “I still struggle regularly with the emotional, mental, physical, and financial damage that was done to me over those years.”
In response to Jenzen’s allegations, Rooster Teeth co-founder Geoff Ramsey wrote in an October 15 post that, during her employment, “I f**king sucked. I was a sh**ty, self-loathing poor excuse for a ‘comedian,’ who only knew how to express myself… under the guise of edgy comedy.”
“I didn’t understand this about myself until I got sober,” he continued. “That is in no way meant to serve as an excuse… I have none. There is none.”
He said he apologized to Jenzen privately in 2016 and 2020 and that he was trying to learn and be a better person.
“I should have been a better man. I should have understood the pain of words… I think I did somewhere inside. I just ignored it because it was easier to do…. I should have been an ally… and that failure will continue to haunt me. It is shameful. I am deeply ashamed.”
Online commenters also criticized him for making his apology about himself and his failures and noted that he didn’t say whether he would pay Jenzen any of the money she says the company owed her, any discipline for the employees involves in her harassment, nor any steps the company has made to prevent similar anti-LGBTQ harassment or financial exploitation in the future.
In a statement released Sunday, Rooster Teeth said, “We are disheartened to hear of anyone who has experienced pain resulting from prior experiences working at Rooster Teeth and support the resolution of interpersonal conflicts through direct and honest dialog…. Many individuals at Rooster Teeth acknowledged personal responsibility for their actions both internally and externally.”
The company said it had “implemented internal actions” such as hiring a diversity, equality, and inclusivity consultant and managing firm, new leadership, and a revised pay-review policy.
“Leadership, management, and personnel across the company have evolved over the past two decades to build what we believe is a safe, secure, and inclusive workplace,” the company’s statement continued, noting that it began an investigation into Jenzen and others’ claims. However, the company said that it and the people involved would not comment on the investigation until it concluded.
“New leadership has worked to address and investigate past conduct, acknowledging that mediation is complex and doesn’t guarantee a perfect solution,” Rooster Teeth wrote.
Online commenters also noted that Jenzen herself used the n-word in a public broadcast when she was 19 years old. Some posted a video of her comments online as well.
“I want to make sure that my stupidity from 15 years ago does not distract from the wrongful treatment, harassment, and worse from Rooster Teeth toward their employees and the community,” Jenzen said on Twitter in a public October 17 apology for her racism. She also posted a longer apology on October 18.
There is a video online of me, at 19 (15 years ago), using an awful slur.
Ive apologized publicly before, & Id like to apologize again as I shouldve known better then & do know better now.
Ive done everything in my ability to become & grow into a better person since then. (1/2) https://t.co/vUlFtrSMnk
— Kdin Jenzen (@KdinJenzen) October 18, 2022