Former Rooster Teeth director exposes culture of harassment and crunch
Former Rooster Teeth director, producer and content creator Kdin Jenzen has shared a lengthy report into the company’s culture, saying that she was often underpaid or not paid at all, that crunch was common practice, and that she was harassed by co-workers.
In a TwitLonger post, Jenzen, who mainly worked on Achievement Hunter, spoke out about her working conditions during the nine years she spent at the production company. She started in 2013 as a contractor and left in 2022.
Jenzen alleged that her work as a contractor was unpaid for over ten months – from February to November 2013. When she brought it up as she was being hired permanently, she was reportedly told: “It’s been so long already, it’s not really a big deal, is it?”
Later in her career, she was also not paid for the voiceover work she did for the company’s animated shows, such as RWBY.
She also reported that she was encouraged to crunch, that she wasn’t credited for the work she did, and was paid less than her co-workers – below industry standards.
Until 2020, Jenzen said she was paid $40,000 per year as a producer and director. In 2019, she was affected by Rooster Teeth’s layoffs, and was given a choice between redundancy or moving from Austin, Texas to Los Angeles, California on that same $40,000 salary. She was due to move to LA in March 2020, but the pandemic forced the company to revert back; her position was saved as a result and she didn’t have to move to LA.
“In my first years there, I would arrive at work around 7am (two hours before everyone else) to start editing videos and would often have to stay until 9pm to get as much work done as possible,” she wrote. “This was actively encouraged so we could have a backlog of content, but I was always given ‘rush orders’ to edit more important videos to go out either the same day or the next day. That’s when the crunch began for me and it didn’t end.”
Jenzen said she was also harassed by her acting manager and, when she reported it to HR, was asked to confront her manager in a one-to-one meeting.
“The manager said ‘Oh I’m sorry’ and that was it,” she said. “The way I was treated did not change at all and actively became worse. I then went to one of the founding fathers of the company to express my concerns, and was told that I was ‘too nice to work at Rooster Teeth’ and that I should ‘just quit and find somewhere else to work’ – I was horrified.”
Jenzen said she was also called a slur for years by her co-workers, despite reporting it to HR repeatedly. A modified version of the slur was even used in videos she took part in, some of which are still online to this day.
Following the publication of Jenzen’s post, Rooster Teeth’s former creative director Gavin Free posted a message on Twittersaying he’s taking “full responsibility for [his] past behavior” at the company.
“I’m absolutely shocked by what I used to think could pass as comedy or ‘just joking around’,” he wrote. “Before Kdin bravely came out [as a trans woman] and transitioned, I did use that horribly offensive nickname. It didn’t matter that I was under the impression that we were all in on a joke – it was hurtful and wrong.”
Rooster Teeth co-founder Geoff Ramsey also posted a long message on Twittersaying: “The long and short of it is that I fucking sucked. I was a shitty, self-loathing poor excuse for a ‘comedian,’ who only knew how to express myself by externalising that feeling under the guise of edgy comedy. ”
Rooster Teeth published an official statement on its Twitter account, sharing its “dedication to change” and detailing actions it’s taken over the past couple of years to improve its culture.
These include working with a DEI consultant, completing a pay parity review, and hiring a “management firm specializing in cultural growth and workplace change.”
“Our decision to change has included the valuable input of many team members across the company, Kdin being one, and we’re grateful for their collaboration,” the statement read, adding later on: “Openness and transparency are critical to our growth and dedication to doing better.”
Back in 2020, Rooster Teeth members Ryan Haywood and Adam Kovic were dismissed from the video production company after explicit photos they reportedly sent to fans leaked online.
More allegations later surfaced against Ryan Haywood, a former Achievement Hunter host, who was described as “predatory,” allegedly taking advantage of power imbalance to solicit sexual favors from young women.