Tensions Rise At Bethesda As Employees Pressure Company On Abortion Measures

Tensions mount at Bethesda as employees pressure company over abortion measures

In the wake of Roe v. Wade brought down last week, many employees of Skyrim creator Bethesda Game Studios and parent company ZeniMax Media have grown increasingly frustrated with what they see as their employer’s unwillingness to clearly support workers’ access to reproductive health care. This is a very urgent matter for the many starfield and redfall developers based in states like Texas that have strict anti-abortion laws. These tensions have steadily increased as heated discussions have taken place in the company’s Slack channels and management communications have failed to directly address employees’ specific concerns and demands.

While some employees are pressuring management to commit unequivocally to things like relocation support for employees in hard-hit states, unsurprisingly, some of the company also support the court’s decision, adding to internal tensions that are sometimes skipped in Slack. A Bethesda employee caused considerable controversy in Slack’s work when he posted an eight-paragraph diatribe against abortion. “I am baffled by the consistent calls for the ‘right’ to kill one’s own family,” he wrote. “Human rights are not violated in the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade, they are restored for those who cannot speak for themselves.” The message contained eleven quotes from the Bible. Kotaku was able to obtain screenshots of this post from the company-wide Slack channel. A Bethesda executive eventually deleted the post and closed the thread, asking employees to keep politics and religion out of the “water cooler” channel.

The incident came during a tense period when many women at the company already felt unsupported by what they saw as the… precipitation publisher’s reluctance to take a clear, principled stance on reproductive rights. The case comes especially close to home for many employees, as ZeniMax Media has a significant 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 based in a suburb in northern Dallas. Employees who work out of Texas will be subject to additional “trigger laws” this summer, which will… ban all abortions from the moment of conception.

Microsoft, which acquired Bethesda last year, had already announced that it would provide travel reimbursement to employees who wish to have an abortion. However, a former ZeniMax employee who worked at the company after the acquisition said: Kotaku that Microsoft and ZeniMax treated benefits completely separately, and therefore that Microsoft policy does not apply to ZeniMax personnel. “When it became clear that Microsoft was not going to swallow us up in their umbrella, a lot of people stopped,” they said.

Although the Supreme Court ruling was only officially announced last week, employees have been committed to it for a while and are taking action around it. Members of a women’s workforce resource group at Bethesda felt the impact the decision could have on staffers in Texas and elsewhere and sent a letter to ZeniMax leadership after the Supreme Court advice design indicates that Roe v. Wade would be destroyed seven weeks earlier, first leaked to the public.

“As reproductive rights in the US have come under full fire, the lack of response from ZeniMax’s leadership has been deafening. At the time of writing, six calendar days have passed since the intent to play Roe vs. Wade overthrow to the public was leaked,” the email read. The email pointed out that the company had previously made internal efforts to support employees during Black Lives Matter, pride month in 2021, and reached out internally during the invasion of Ukraine. “As more ZeniMax employees are threatened with their rights, while more of us ask if our employer is behind us, competitors Come outside support of their own employees, the company’s silence remains unforgivable and contrary to company values.”

Nearly two months after the group requested recognition, 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 gay men find illegal, as it suggests that one’s gender identity or sexuality is just a matter of choice. Multiple queer employees at ZeniMax studios expressed frustration that their employers had interpreted their struggle as a personal choice, prompting ZeniMax COO Jamie Leder to send another email the same day apologizing about the wording. †Kotaku obtained a copy of his emails.) “I would like to apologize for any violations caused by the prior communications and to reassure you that we will continue to protect our employee options and access to critical health care as we proceed,” said The e-mail.

Despite Leder’s comments intended to “reassure” employees about the company’s stance on reproductive health care, employees remain frustrated with what they see as an unwillingness to be clear and specific in its obligations. The women’s workforce group had previously called on ZeniMax to codify access to birth control through the company’s health plans, ensure non-discrimination against pregnant employees, negotiate relocation of workers in affected states such as Texas, and accommodate staff. according to their local state laws. Three of the four requests were not answered by the email.

A previous, separate email from Leder indicated that the company attempted “ongoing discussions with our U.S. healthcare provider about improving our benefits for those who may need to travel for medical services,” but did not address specific provisions for affected. employees . Kotaku contacted to inquire about specific steps the company would take to ensure reproductive health care, but received no response at the time of publication.

According to a current employee at Bethesda, most employees are in favor of abortion rights. However, some are dissatisfied because that support and concern for marginalized workers and how they will be affected by the court’s decision does not appear to be reflected by the management of Bethesda and ZeniMax. “We waited with bated breath on Friday for the studios to release a statement while other studios were ahead of us [punch] with several hours,” said the source.


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