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Multiple Lab Zero staff members resign after fall out with Mike Z

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • August 24, 2020 at 5:13 p.m. PDT • Comments: 88

Several employees from video game development company Lab Zero (creators of Skullgirls and Indivisible) have announced their resignations alleging routine unprofessional behavior from owner, Mike "Mike Z" Zaimont as motivation.

Former Lead Animator and Art Director, Mariel Cartwright, posted a resignation statement to Twitter today following similar posts from art producer, Brian Jun, and Senior Animator, Jonathan Kim. These statements include allegations of Zaimont exhibiting routine displays of disrespect and sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as reference internal disputes regarding the company's direction.

Zaimont garnered public attention back in June after making an off color joke in reference to the George Floyd's death and later being decried by the Skullgirls community following BunnyAyu's public posting of a private conversation she had with Zaimont. The Twitch personality claimed that sexual remarks made by Zaimont during the conversation made her feel uncomfortable.

Cartwright indicates that these incidents started internal discussions that brought additional instances of Zaimont's unprofessional behaviors to light.

"June was hard. After the widely criticized racist joke and then the inappropriate DMs and other stories, our team started speaking up," mentioned Cartwright. "What we realized was that there was a pattern of behavior that I don't think we had fully understood until then. A pattern of hostility, insults, threats, lying, and harassment that many on our team had not openly shared with each other before."

Jun also noted the June incidents as inciting, but goes on to explain that the company had thereafter decided to ask Zaimont to leave.

"Shortly after the public exposure of Mike Z's interaction with a fan, the board and rest of the employees decided that the best thing to make the workplace safe again was to ask Mike Z to leave Lab Zero... The board entered negotiations with Mike Z for terms of separation while he was put on paid administrative leave," wrote Jun.

"His terms were unrealistically high and even potentially illegal to force onto the company and employees. What he was asking for was absolutely unacceptable and undeserving for someone who had wronged so many people for so many years... we rejected the majority of his terms," continued Jun. "With that last exchange, Mike Z reversed his stance and said he will not leave the company. He also removed all members of the board to assume full control of Lab Zero Games."

Jon Kim echoes these sentiments in his statement.

"We were fooled into thinking Mike was an awkward but well-meaning friend... when we finally got our notes together, we realized as a studio we couldn't go on and needed Mike out. From July to August, the team tried to resolve this with Mike, but Mike refused to be reasonable. Mike used intimidating and potentially retaliatory tactics to bully the team while refusing responsibility for his actions. He then gave all employees until August 31 to leave if they're unsatisfied, and so now we're here," wrote Kim.

Skullgirls recently announced a brand new character, Annie, who is slated to join the mobile version this year and 2nd Encore some time in 2021. At this time we have not heard as to whether or not this inner turbulence will affect future DLC content and development.

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