As the movie industry deals with the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, more people are coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment against their superiors. On Friday, Amazon studio boss Roy Price was suspended by the company for his reportedly inappropriate behavior. Now, a former Naughty Dog employee has talked about his experiences, and how Sony fired him and allegedly offered money for his silence.
David Ballard was a former environment artist and multiplayer level layout artist for Naughty Dog, having worked on several of its Uncharted games and The Last of Us during his time at the company.
Using his Facebook and Twitter accounts on Friday night, Ballard wrote that in late 2015 he was sexually harassed while at Naughty Dog by a lead, an incident that led to his work environment becoming extremely toxic.
In late 2015, I was sexually harassed at Naughty Dog by a lead. My work environment became extremely toxic afterward. 1/— David Ballard (@DBal) October 14, 2017
Ballard said he suffered a mental breakdown at work in February 2016, at which point Sony PlayStation HR became involved. “When I told them about the harassment they ended the call and fired me the next day. They cited the company was moving in a different direction and my job was no longer needed,” he explained.
Ballard claims that Sony offered him $20,000 to sign a letter that stated he agreed to his termination and wouldn’t discuss it with anyone. He declined and has been unemployed since his firing 17 months ago. He tells potential employers he was “burned out by the crunch” at Naughty Dog because he's too ashamed to explain the real reasons behind his departure.
“I’m speaking out now because of the strength I’ve seen in others coming forward about their experiences in the TV/Film industry. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I will not let anyone kill my drive or love for the video game industry, my passions or life.”
Naughty Dog has since responded to the claims. The company states it has “not found any evidence of having received allegations from Mr. Ballard that he was harassed in any way,” and that “harassment and inappropriate conduct have no place at Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment.”
"We have taken and always will take reports of sexual harassment and other workplace grievances very seriously,” it added.