Allegations of sexual harassment at Naughty Dog have surfaced, after an ex-Uncharted developer shared their story on social media.
David Ballard – an environmental artist at the company, having worked on Uncharted 2, 3, 4, and The Last of Us – said on Twitter that the harassment took place in late 2015. When he reported the incident to human resources, Ballard said he was fired the next day. Ballard also says he was offered a $20,000 USD severance package if he remained silent about the event, which he refused.
Here is his statement, collated from a series of Tweets:
In late 2015, I was sexually harassed at Naughty Dog by a lead. My work environment became extremely toxic afterward. In February 2016 I had a mental breakdown at work & Sony PlayStation HR became involved. When I told them about the harassment they ended the call and fired me the next day. They cited the company was moving in a different direction and my job was no longer needed. They tried to silence me by offering $20k if I signed a letter agreeing to the termination as well as to not discuss it with anyone. I declined to sign. I have been unemployed for 17 months since.
When interviewers ask why I left Naughty Dog, I say I was burned out by the crunch, ashamed to get to the root of the problem of being sexually harassed. I'm speaking out now because of the strength I've seen in others coming forward about their experiences in the TV/Film industry. This is the hardest thing I've ever done. I will not let anyone kill my drive or love for the video game industry, my passions or life.
Ballard is likely referencing Harvey Weinstein; reports with multiple sources revealed that the Hollywood producer had been sexually harassing and assaulting colleagues for decades. Following the exposé, Weinstein was fired by the board of his production company. He was also expelled from the Oscars Academy.
Naughty Dog delivered a statement on their site, saying they had “not found any evidence of having received allegations from Mr. Ballard that he was harassed in any way at Naughty Dog or Sony Interactive Entertainment.”
“Harassment and inappropriate conduct have no place at Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment,” it continued. “We have taken and always will take reports of sexual harassment and other workplace grievances very seriously.”