Bethesda employees are upset with the studio’s response to abortion debates


Bethesda employees are upset with the studio's response to abortion debates

Some astronauts look into space.

picture: Xbox

In the wake of Roe v. calf In the past week, many employees have been crushed Skyrim Manufacturer Bethesda Game Studios and its parent company ZeniMax Media are increasingly frustrated by what they see as their employer’s unwillingness to unequivocally support employee access to reproductive health care. This is a particularly pressing issue for many starfield and redfall Developers based in states like Texas that have strict anti-abortion laws on the books. These tensions have steadily increased as heated debates have taken place on the company’s Slack channels and management’s communications have not directly addressed employees’ specific concerns and demands.

While some employees are pressuring management to make an unequivocal commitment to things like relocation assistance for employees in hard-hit states, unsurprisingly, some within the company are also supporting the court’s decision, contributing to internal tensions that have at times spilled over into Slack. A Bethesda employee caused significant controversy on Slack when he published an eight-part anti-abortion tirade. “I am dismayed by the constant calls for the ‘right’ to murder one’s kin,” he wrote. “Human rights will not be violated when Roe vs. Wade is overthrown, they will be restored to those who cannot speak for themselves.” The message included eleven quotations from the Bible. kotaku was able to pull screenshots of this post from the company-wide Slack channel. A Bethesda director eventually removed the post and locked the thread, urging staff to keep politics and religion out of the “water cooler” channel.

The incident came at a tense time when many women at the company already felt unsupported by what they perceived to be the case Stand out the publisher’s reluctance to take a clear, principled stance on reproductive rights. The matter hits many employees particularly hard because ZeniMax Media has a strong presence in Texas. Bethesda Austin and Arkane Austin – where the vampire shooter redfall is being developed – are based in the state capital, and id Software is located in the north suburbs of Dallas. Employees working from Texas will be subject to additional “trigger laws” this summer ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization.

Microsoft, which acquired Bethesda last year, had already announced that it grants travel expenses to employees who wish to have an abortion. However, that’s what a former ZeniMax employee who worked at the company after the acquisition said kotaku that Microsoft and ZeniMax have managed benefits entirely separately and therefore these Microsoft policies do not apply to ZeniMax employees. “When it became clear that Microsoft wasn’t going to put us into its umbrella, a lot of people resigned,” they said.

Although the Supreme Court decision was only officially released last week, officials have been preparing for and taking action against it for some time. Anticipating the decision’s impact on employees in Texas and elsewhere, members of a resource group for women employees at Bethesda sent a post-Supreme Court letter to ZeniMax leadership Opinion draft indicates that Roe v. calf would have been leaked to the public for the first time seven weeks earlier.

“With reproductive rights under full attack in the US, the lack of response from ZeniMax leadership has been deafening. As of the writing of this article, it has been six calendar days since the intent to oust Roe vs. Wade became public,” the email read. The email noted that the company had previously made internal efforts to support employees during the disruption Black Lives Matter, Pride Month 2021, and made internal contact during the invasion of Ukraine. “The more ZeniMax employees have their rights threatened, the more of us want to know if our employer stands by us competitors come in support of their own employees, the company’s silence remains inexcusable and at odds with the company’s professed values.”

Nearly two months after the group asked for credit, Bethesda’s official Twitter account finally posted on Friday:

However, many employees were disappointed with the wording of the statement. “Lifestyle” is a word that many queer people find delegitimizing, as it suggests that a person’s gender identity or sexuality is merely a matter of choice. Several queer employees at ZeniMax studios expressed frustration that their employer had portrayed their struggles as a personal choice, prompting ZeniMax COO Jamie Leder to send an email apology for the choice of language later that day. (kotaku was able to obtain a copy of his emails.) “I would like to apologize for any offense caused by the previous communication and assure you that we will continue to protect our employees’ options and access to critical healthcare.” said the email.

Despite Leder’s comments aimed at “reassuring” employees about the company’s stance on reproductive health, employees remain frustrated with what they see as an unwillingness to articulate their commitments in clear and concrete terms. The employee resource group for women had previously urged ZeniMax to codify access to contraception through the company’s health plans, ensure non-discrimination against pregnant employees, negotiate relocation for employees in affected states such as Texas, and house employees in accordance with local laws. Three of the four requests were not answered in the email.

An earlier, separate email from Leder indicated that the company was trying to “have ongoing discussions with our US healthcare provider about improving our services for those who may need to travel for medical services,” but didn’t go into specifics provisions for affected employees. kotaku asked what specific steps the company would be taking to provide reproductive healthcare, but received no response at the time of publication.

According to a current Bethesda employee, most employees support abortion rights. However, some are unhappy because that support and concern for marginalized employees and how they will be affected by the court’s decision does not appear to be reflected by Bethesda and ZeniMax management. “We waited with bated breath for the studios to issue a statement on Friday as other studios have preempted us [punch] by several hours,” the source said.

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