Xbox 360 Graphics Designer Sues MS Over Alleged Homophobia

U.K. newspaper Telegraph reports that a veteran graphics designer employed by the Xbox side of Microsoft’s house has sued the company for £45,000.

Jamie Durrant, 38, claims in the suit that he was harassed for an extended period by coworkers who indulged in name calling and nasty notes. Durrant worked with Lionhead for more than a decade until MS acquired the Peter Molyneux studio in 2006. His design credits include AAA titles Fable, Black & White and The Movies.

The Telegraph also notes that Xbox has seemingly had difficulty coming to grips with Xbox Live users who self-identify as gay.

Of his situation, Durrant told the newspaper:

I have never hidden my sexuality from the office and I felt this could be targeted at myself. This was not the first time there was homophobic content in the office. Previously, I had tried to deal with it myself. This time, I did not feel that I could.

I was very surprised that Microsoft did not have any policies relating to this sexual orientation harassment… I feel like they’re making out that I’m the one with the problem and not the homophobic aspects of the company.

Durrant’s situation notwithstanding, Microsoft earned a perfect score from U.S.-based gays rights group the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in 2008.

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  1. Positive_Gamer says:

    No sympathy from me on this one.

    Homo or Hetero, there is no point to parading your sexuality around unless you want the attention.

    Your sexuality is a private matter between you and your partner, keep it that way.

  2. Lcpuche says:

    Oh bohoo they hurt his feelings, that is no reason to ask for 90 grand, people really need to mature up, Stupid way to sue you have a problem you deal with it, not sue like a little girl.

  3. Dark Sovereign says:

    That situation made me think that she was banned as a result of an automated process, and MS tried to cover their ass.

  4. Neeneko says:

    Given what I have heard about Microsoft, I wonder exactly what criteria the Human Rights Campaign Foundation uses, and if they consider behavior outside the US.

    It would not be the first time that a company is ‘sensitive’ within the boarders of a country that cares about something but completely drops the effort in other countries where they will recieve less bad press.

    Companies tend to act in self-interest, and thus only implement costly tollerance schemes in regions where they get a good PR benifit from them.  In other areas, keeping your homophobic employies happy at the expense of a small percentage of your workforce makes more economic sense.

  5. chadachada321 says:

    But on the same token, as long as you aren’t ADVERTISING your sexuality, it shouldn’t matter if it’s on your profile. It is inherently offensive because it says lesbian either. At the very least, they should review her profile and force her to make changes, not BAN her from something she’s paying for.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  6. Werrick says:

    Well, first of all, the idea that there should be special policies regarding sexual orientation harrasment is laughable. Harrasment is harrasment, period, regardless of the reason.

    Secondly, a lot of the time people are just ignorant, assuming this guy told the people in question how they were making him feel then he has a right to complain, but you can’t just slide through life with a polite smile on your face, not telling others where the line is in terms of how they treat you. I’m assuming this guy made the effort, though, he seems thoughtful and intelligent enough to know this kind of thing.

    Nobody should be picking on anyone, and quite frankly I hope this guy wins his lawsuit.

    Lastly, XBOX Live has a good policy, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think anyone should ever use their gender or orientation as an identity, it’s silly and unhealthy. People are complex, and who you like to sleep with has little to nothing to do with who you are. I think this idea that somehow it’s a point of pride to have your sexual orientation in your handle is outdated. Just be a person.

    The assholes on XBOX live who can’t seem to get a grip on the fact that there are people in the world who are gay, and that they play video games are going to have to deal, but jamming it in their faces isn’t going to make it any easier or happen any faster. Nobody’s saying that one should hide anything about themselves, including their orientation, but seriously… having it in your handle is a bit like wearing one of those "Hello, my name is…" stickers on your sweater and writing "Big Gay Jim – I’m homosexual" in the white box.

    Nobody needs to know, and aside from the dickheads who think that’s an excuse to pick on you, nobody cares.

  7. chadachada321 says:

    Yeah, those were my thoughts too. He "could" be very sensitive and in THAT horrible of a place, but the odds of that seem a little low. He probably just wants to spite MS for doing nothing about something little, or just wants money. Or didn’t take the necessary steps to fix the problem, just simmered on the inside about it.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  8. DeepThorn says:

    As for the lesbian live gamer, I understand that they don’t want to have anything of any nature like that sexually oriented on xbox live because of "live child predators", which is really just an over reaction to messed up parents that dont think their 14 year old should walk off of their property to a friend’s house just down the street without parental supervision.  —  But they should have let her know that that was their policy since it isn’t really outlined that well.

    "He has been signed off sick for depression for seven months and is demanding £45,000 in compensation for lost earnings and injury to feelings"

    I really think this guy just wants to sue.  Clinical depression because of that?  Yeah, people are already sue happy here in the US, so I bet MS decides to not let this go far from their experiences here. I am surprised to see something like this get that far over there.

    Here are the possible situations I see:

    1. He just wants to sue and created and environment where he was joking around about it, then turned it serious so he could sue.

    2. His initial complaint didn’t have any contents that were severe enough to be a complaint worth filing, and he was just over reacting.

    3. He didn’t follow through with some other part of the HR reporting process to get things moving faster that he should have.

    4. He never let these people know these types of comments were appreciated by him, and he would wish for them to stop. (Most people could tell that to someone close to them at work, and that person would normally let others know when they say something.)

    5. He is overly sensitive, and needs to take a joke.  Basic psychological help on his perspective would be all the help he should need unless he does have more serious problems.

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  9. chadachada321 says:

    I was going to write a paragraph or two disagreeing with you and stuff, but then I read the actual article.


    Though I’m not quite sure that suing Microsoft is the answer (and I don’t know UK laws concerning rights in the workplace), I agree that he’s got some pretty shitty co-workers that should be fired.

    But, clinical depression over it? Seriously? What a fruit…

  10. Harry Miste says:

    oh lawd i lol’d

    | XBOX LIVE GamerTag: Harry Miste | Steam ID: Harry Miste | PSN ID: HarryMiste |

  11. Faceless Clock says:

    "Hey, want to go down to the pub after work? There’s some sexy ladies there on Thursday nights!"

    "Well, I’d like to go to the pub. But you know I’m gay, right?"

    "What? You’re a fag!?"

    No, seriously. I overheard this conversation once.

    The Honest Game –

  12. chadachada321 says:

    If he worked on Fable and some other great games, I’m sure there are other companies that would gladly take him under if Microsoft is being a bitch. I’d hire him, if he was good, hopefully some of the pent up emotion could translate into something very well in a game.


    And…I hate to admit it…but you’re right. I don’t know what it’s like to be harrassed for an extended period at work to the extent that he had, but at the same time, I’m wondering whether it was a couple co-workers or a large part of the workforce there? Because there are a few people at my work (I’m a lifeguard) that make fun of me all the time and I just shrug it off. Then again, I’m a lot more…robust than other people. Instead of getting sad, I get vengeful. hehe. Just the way that my brain is wired. Eye-for-an-eye and Don’t-take-any-crap-from-anybody is how I deal with those types of people, so to have someone get sad just seems odd to me. *Shrug*

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  13. Neeneko says:

    You have never worked in a truely hostile enviroment, have you?

    Being cliqued out alone is enough to mess most people up pschologically, but they tend to assume that it wouldnt’ because it has either never happened to them or they only think it has.  Those tend to be the worst since they develope a "I delt with it, so can everyone else!" when they never actually delt with what they think they did.

    Harrassment, lack of support, and a hostile enviroment can really screw someone up pretty badly.  8-10 hours a day of such an enviroment for years at a time?  Depressing is one of the lighter results.  Neverous breakdowns, anxiaty, or suicide are pretty common in such situations.  And such people can end up perminatly damaged.

  14. chadachada321 says:

    He got clinical depression from some name-calling and some harrassing emails…if that’s not anti-social/overthetop…

    I mean, feeling down is one thing, but 7 months of DEPRESSION?

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  15. nightwng2000 says:

    "I feel like they’re making out that I’m the one with the problem and not the homophobic aspects of the company."

    This is typically how society works.  Many times, society will judge the reasons for abuse, then decide if the abuse victims deserves it (hence, is the bad one and to blame for the abuse) or if the attacker is in the wrong. 

    If the reason for the abuse is preceived as justifiable, then it’s the victim who is labeled as anti-social, even though the very act of abuse itself is anti-social and the act of a sociopath.


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

  16. GoodRobotUs says:

    Alas, after the obvious Homophobia displayed by Microsoft on X-Box live, this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

  17. Monte says:

     Well it can come up in casual conversation with your friends; kinda like how a heterosexual guy might casually talk about girls or something… and just because you are talking to your friend, doesn’t mean the homophobe walking by or sitting across from you can’t hear you. 

    In that kind of situation, you’d have to say that ALL casual conversation would be considered unprofessional… not to mention that since he was working there for 11 years, i think people would eventually catch on… especially if they got suspicious enough to actually out right ask if they were gay, and they guy just casually replies "yes"… considering he worked on fable and what you could do in fable, it could have easily come up

  18. Biochemnuclrad says:

    How does sexual orientation even come up in a proffessional workplace? It shouldn’t even be relevant unless you make it relevant then in which case that is really unprofessional.

  19. Vordus says:

     Huh. I would have expected better from Lionhead, considering how incredibly neutral the Fable series’ position on sexuality is.

  20. gamadaya says:

    Cool. I hope that this brings more attention to MS’s retarded Live policies.

    Because we always have to protect those poor homophobes…


    Believe in something! Even if it’s wrong, believe in it! -Glenn Beck

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