Stardock CEO embroiled in sexual harassment suit

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has always been outspoken. But, was he out of line with his treatment of one former employee? That's what the courts are...

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Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has always been outspoken. But, was he out of line with his treatment of one former employee? That's what the courts are deciding in an ongoing lawsuit between Wardell and Alexandra Miseta.

Earlier this month, Stardock filed a lawsuit against Miseta, former marketing manager at the company. The company alleges that she is partly responsible for the failure of Elemental: War of Magic. The game's launch was so poorly managed that it led to severe layoffs at the company.

Stardock alleges that Miseta "deleted, destroyed, and/or stole" marketing and analytics information regarding Elemental when she quit the company weeks before the game's launch. The company is seeking over a million dollars in damages. However, Miseta filed a suit against Wardell months after her departure, claiming sexual harassment.

Kotaku has a detailed report on the allegations. In an e-mail exchange between the two, Miseta requests that Wardell "never touch my hair or any of my body parts, not even jokingly" and to "be careful with your 'jokes' which are at many times inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and very embarrassing." Wardell's response certainly raises some eyebrows: "I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing person and I'm not inclined to change my behavior. If this is a problem, you will need to find another job," he said.

Kotaku's report notes the suspicious timing of Stardock's million-dollar lawsuit against Miseta, as it was filed "less than three weeks" after the courts denied a motion to dismiss the sexual harassment case against Wardell--that means Miseta's case will go to trial. Miseta's attorney told the site that "it is our opinion that Mr. Wardell's lawsuit against Ms. Miseta for allegedly deleting files, etc., is baseless and was brought solely in retaliation for her sexual harassment lawsuit. We firmly believe that Ms. Miseta's leaving Stardock had absolutely nothing to do with any failures pertaining to Stardock's release of Elemental."

Wardell admits that he was "a jerk" in his response to Wardell, but he claims that "it does not justify her getting pissed off, quitting without notice and using her network access to wipe out our marketing assets 3 weeks before the ship of the game forcing me and a few other key team members to scramble at the last second to deal with it." Wardell points out that even if Miseta had stayed, Elemental wouldn't have been a great game, "but that doesn't excuse someone from maliciously and intentionally wiping out years worth of marketing data, assets, etc."

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 7, 2012 4:00 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Stardock CEO embroiled in sexual harassment suit.

    Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has always been outspoken. But, was he out of line with his treatment of one former employee? That's what the courts are...

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      September 7, 2012 4:02 PM

      I bet he'd never admit doing any of that stuff was wrong. I've met dozens of dudes like that.

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      September 7, 2012 4:15 PM

      Lol, that email. That's pretty damning.

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      September 7, 2012 4:25 PM

      Sounds to me like Wardell's a complete sleaze and it is all too likely that he performed whatever espionage that he's trying to pin on Miseta in an attempt to retaliate. His reply to Miseta's rebuke shows pretty clearly that he feels he is untouchable as well as entitled to treat people with less power in any way he chooses.

      Stardock would do well to pull the espionage suit and can this asshole post haste. It does nobody any good to throw support behind a guy like Wardell, especially if he's the CEO. Would you really like to take orders from a guy who runs a company by swinging his dick around?

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        September 7, 2012 4:45 PM

        Is Stardock even a public company? As far as I know Wardell owns the entire thing.
        Wardell may be a Republican (i.e. inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing) but at least he's honest about it, I'd much rather take orders from him than from many other bosses I've known who lie, deceive and possibly do way worse things.

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          September 7, 2012 6:43 PM

          former doesnt preclude him from the latter

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          September 8, 2012 6:01 AM

          Republican (i.e. inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing) I'm pretty sure plenty of people on both sides of the aisle fit those criteria.

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            September 8, 2012 8:31 AM

            But understand the pathology of some people where they need to construct enemies out of groups they disagree with. 500 years ago (and in some countries today), atomx-xmota would be a footsoldier in some ridiculous holy purge.

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            September 8, 2012 10:59 AM

            Agreed with that. I think people need to stop delluding themselves by saying only one side has assholes. Asshole is a univeral characteristic of people regardless of affiliation. Then again, some people like to be "holier than thou" in their beliefs and values.

            I'm reserving judging Wardell after more proof and information is brought forth. I've seen women who at times have a "victim complex" when there's nothing going to to be had. Maybe Wardell was just being idiotic at the time. I just don't know enough to properly say he's guilty.

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            September 11, 2012 11:17 AM

            I've been banned from posting for a few days for making joking political comments. Yours if just flat out flamebait.

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      September 7, 2012 4:29 PM

      Wasn't there already a controversy about him because of über right-wing comments?

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        September 7, 2012 5:28 PM

        He would be in the Tea Party but its to far left for him.

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      September 7, 2012 4:31 PM

      We had to let a couple guys here go and part of the reason was them making comments that were pretty crude around the female employees.

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        September 7, 2012 5:29 PM

        Got an example of said comments?

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        September 7, 2012 6:17 PM

        It is inexcusable, and the same goes for bigoted speech of any kind.

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          September 7, 2012 6:40 PM

          Not stopping or watching yourself more closely when it's brought up kind is but just making comments you don't expect to be overheard or that you don't expect to be problematic I would say is more unwise than inexcusable.

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      September 7, 2012 4:37 PM

      Oh boy here we go.

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      September 7, 2012 5:31 PM

      I wrote this on a few forums:

      I shared this story with a lawyer friend who defends his company from sexual harassment suits nation wide. He said his jaw dropped and didn't come back up for an hour. Unless there is some hidden information, he will lose and lose hard.

      I didn't write notes while he was talking, I had to do some Google surfing to reconstruct what he told me. Any inaccuracies are my fault.

      Problem 1: That email seals it. Under Michigan law, the employee must make a sexual harassment complaint through human resources OR the owner of the company to give them a chance to resolve that problem. EVEN IF the the complaint is invaild, the company still is libel for damages if they took no action to investigate and make an effort to resolve the problem. She did contact the owner and it was rebuffed the prejudiced. If Brad is completely in the clear over actually sexually harassing the employee, his response as the owner of StarDock makes his company at fault for not following through with state laws.

      Problem 2: It is normally really hard to get punitive damages in sexual harassment suit. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant voluntarily acted maliciously, plaintiff incurred some incremental or increased feeling attributable to his or her indignation and outrage, and that any such incremental or increased injury to feelings was caused by defendant’s malicious acts. Brad's email justifies those 3 if the jury believes the harassment happened.

      Problem 3: Michigan is one of the few states that doesn't cap punitive damages juries can award and order specific requirements. Example, A landlord and manager who was harassing female tenants was order to no longer directly manage the operations of his properties.

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      September 7, 2012 5:45 PM

      "Wardell admits that he was "a jerk" in his response to Wardell"

      wut?

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      September 7, 2012 6:20 PM

      Brad seemed like a cool dude back in the OS/2 days. Quirky, to be certain, but I think a lot of eager entrepreneurs come across that way. I'm really disappointed with his behavior over the last few years. Just too much crazy and ego going on.

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        September 7, 2012 6:47 PM

        like lincoln said - almost all men can withstand adversity, if you want to test a man's character give him power.

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      September 7, 2012 6:45 PM

      Stardocks looks like an awesome place to work, never boring!

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        September 7, 2012 7:14 PM

        If he wasn't the CEO it would be awesome working on the games they release. Didn't we have a shacker that used to work for Stardock?

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      September 7, 2012 6:53 PM

      IMPOTENT -- Andrew, never start a sentence with the word "but". It's a conjunction. SHACKNEWS journalism] - AT ITS FINEST. What a fucking joke. How's front page traffic? KAFFNIATIONEIONED? 8 people on staff.. Who is in charge of the SHACKNEWS media crew? What is the monthly slary for these staff members? That leader-person should be fired - it is clear now they cannot lead the team to "get the job done." There is no soul or grounded love. Chatty keeps about 10k people coming here but it is now clear Shacknews is a failure as far as being of significance.

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      September 7, 2012 7:43 PM

      They had "years worth of marketing data, assets, etc." with no backups? Amateur.

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      September 7, 2012 7:48 PM

      She is right, and i vote for Wardell to get his ass kicked in a harassment suit.

      BUT (yes i started a sentence with but) Wardell is right, that even though he did that, she should not be a crazy psychopathic bitch going around deleting shit and causing malicious damage to the company. She should go after him, not Stardock.

      AKA Don't take it out on the video games, they never done nuttin to you

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        September 7, 2012 7:51 PM

        I think this post is in English, but I'm not sure.

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          September 7, 2012 8:05 PM

          His point is, even if your boss is the biggest creep who ever lived, that still doesn't give you the right to maliciously sabotage the company in revenge. And I'm inclined to agree with that.

          It's quite possible that they're both found guilty.

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            September 7, 2012 8:26 PM

            Well, I know that Wardell is an asshole from an interaction I had with him years ago. The woman, I know nothing about so I am giving her the benefit of the doubt.

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              September 7, 2012 11:43 PM

              Does being an asshole automatically make one a sexual predator?

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                September 8, 2012 12:23 AM

                No, but it puts your credibility into question.

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                September 8, 2012 12:26 AM

                Dude, Fred is an industry insider and his experiences are pretty much the bible.

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                September 8, 2012 6:58 AM

                His email response certainly doesn't help his case.

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                September 8, 2012 8:05 AM

                His own responses are more or less enough to see that one.

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                September 8, 2012 8:34 AM

                Whoa, easy there. A sexual predator is someone who rapes little kids or attacks women (or men) at knifepoint. A guy who touches a woman's hair at work is just a creep. Let's not throw the term predator around so much that it stops meaning anything.

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                  September 8, 2012 9:42 AM

                  That's a fairly narrow definition of sexual predator, and a boss could certainly count given he's got the threat of termination available as a tool of coercion.

                  If it was literally just a matter of him touching her hair once or something then yeah, I'd agree it was probably not the appropriate term to use, but his note back to her suggests to me that it wasn't just a one time incident.

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                  September 8, 2012 11:09 AM

                  No, a sexual predator isn't just "someone who rapes little kids or attacks women (or men) at knifepoint" .

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                    September 8, 2012 11:41 AM

                    You know, I'm imagining the Predator decloaking with a strap on dildo.

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      September 7, 2012 9:39 PM

      Meh not sure what to make of this. For any other women suffering under much worse sexual harassment at the work place I hope her case isn't constructed. Wardell seems to be an asshole to be around in general, probably something she would have been able to notice during the probation period..

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      September 8, 2012 5:57 AM

      So because her boss was a sexist pig, she intentionally tried to bomb a project, causing many of her innocent co-workers their jobs.

      And all anyone can talk about in the comments is how horrible Wardell is. lol, whiteknights

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        September 8, 2012 6:27 AM

        There's no proof, other than Wardell's allegation, that she bombed anything.

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        September 8, 2012 7:24 AM

        It seems that noone in the office was aware of this despite Wardell claiming it hurted the company. It sound made up or blown out of proportion.

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          September 8, 2012 8:37 AM

          And it was never given as a reason 2 years ago why the release was a disaster. "If the game had come out in February, it would still have been a disastrous launch because lack of time wasn’t the issue. It was blindness, sheer blindness. We felt the game was finished. And I speak of v1.0, not v1.05. Blindness."

          Also I think he only started his lawsuit after his attempts to dismiss hers failed.

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        September 8, 2012 9:11 AM

        Why do you believe him that she did that? Also erasing marketing doesnt make a game bad.

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      September 8, 2012 7:19 AM

      SMELLS LIKE....ENTRAPMENT!
      See you in court THIEF!

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        September 8, 2012 8:44 AM

        go back to the men's rights forums on reddit, front pager.

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      September 8, 2012 7:54 AM

      Why he didn't seek damages at or around the game's launch further fuels the idea that Wardell's suit is retaliatory.

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      September 8, 2012 10:13 AM

      Stardock: Learn how to backup

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        September 9, 2012 9:49 AM

        Uh huh. And who was in charge of the backups? Guess what got deleted? (face palm)

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      September 8, 2012 5:41 PM

      Game looks like shit.

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      September 9, 2012 12:00 AM

      Wardell's response certainly raises some eyebrows: "I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing person and I'm not inclined to change my behavior. If this is a problem, you will need to find another job," he said.

      What a boss! He's the CEO ffs, can't believe some necky cow is trying to put him down with some bogus sexual harrassment case just because she got pwned.

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      September 9, 2012 9:49 AM

      No one will ever hire her again in this industry. Not because of sexual harassment filings, but her actions label her as extremely untrustworthy and unprofessional.

      She decided to get her rocks off by deleting years of work not by her, but by an entire marketing division.

      Knowing that, would you hire her, knowing for whatever reasons if she gets pissed off at you she'll destroy your work?

      Nope.

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        September 9, 2012 10:06 PM

        Hahah, you've got to be kidding me.

        There are several testimonies from current and former employees that state they have no recollection of deleted marketing materials ever holding up the game, as well as testimony stating that she gave notice before quitting and let everyone know where to find her files. The only evidence that Wardells lawyers have presented so far in relation to the claim that any data was deleted has been... Misetas NDA. No internal emails where people were panicking about the deleted files, no time schedules or budgets to show the additional required marketing time, nothing.

        Anyone that believes Wardell is filing a legitimate lawsuit is a complete and utter idiot.

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      September 9, 2012 10:33 AM

      I don't see why anyone would take Wardell's word at face value at this point. This is a guy who, for years, has said whatever was convenient at the moment. I'd speculate that there's an element of politics in some of the bending-over-backwards-to-avoid-the-obvious on display in the comments here.

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      September 9, 2012 11:18 AM

      The fact that they took no action and made no claims proves he is full of shit.

      What excuse will they use when Wonderbook fails horribly.

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      September 9, 2012 11:55 AM

      if he looked like Tom Brady, this wouldn't be a problem

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      November 12, 2014 10:43 AM

      This sure could use an update.

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