Paizo Leadership Team Update

Monday, November 15, 2021

Over the last six weeks, Paizo's Leadership Team has attempted to better listen to and understand the challenges faced by its workforce, customers, and community. We want to take a moment to update you on a few important developments that have emerged from those conversations.

Before we begin, it's important to note that this update does not address requests regarding salaries, adjustments to the current work-from-home environment, or other matters that are now subject to negotiation with the United Paizo Workers union during collective bargaining.

We’re still searching diligently for a candidate to fill the company’s Human Resources Manager position, and plan to begin interviews very shortly. As this is an incredibly important hire, we want to make sure we find the right candidate with experience leading initiatives related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) and working with a union. We are continuing to gather resumes as the search continues.

We’ve hired a company called Energage to complete an employee engagement survey on behalf of Paizo. This survey is designed to allow employees to provide anonymous, unfiltered, and honest feedback to the company that will help Paizo establish priorities for improvement planning. It will also serve as an important benchmark against which to measure the results of future surveys, allowing us to develop a baseline to measure against. We expect employees to be able to access the engagement survey sometime this week.

Discussion in the past several months has resurfaced two instances in which a Paizo executive mishandled user data when replying to message board posts, resulting in allegations of doxxing. These actions were contrary to Paizo policy, and corrective actions were taken to ensure that this does not happen again.

“This was a huge mistake on my part and I am deeply sorry for any issues that have arisen from these actions. This was not the right way to treat our customers and I apologize,” said Paizo President Jeff Alvarez. “As President, I know I need to hold myself to a higher standard.”

Paizo takes issues related to discrimination and harassment very seriously. We have hired the law firm of Moritt Hock & Hamroff (MH&H) to investigate allegations of discrimination against trans employees and sexual misconduct before reporting back to the Leadership Team. Investigators from the firm will reach out to members of Paizo’s staff and others that made claims on social media. Cooperation with the firm is voluntary, of course, but we remain committed to investigating these matters thoroughly to ensure a safe and respectful workplace.

We chose MH&H upon the recommendation of a consultant with expertise in matters of DEIB. MH&H has a team of attorneys that specialize in these issues, and we’re confident they’ll be able to provide an impartial analysis of the facts that we need to move forward with any corrective actions.

Because the results of these investigations are private personnel matters, Paizo will not be able to make them public. Corrective actions will be taken against any employee (including managers and executives) found to be guilty of these allegations.

It has never been Paizo’s intention to discriminate against any employee when making decisions of who to send to industry trade shows, but we see now that our room-sharing policy was based on outdated interpretations of gender, was not friendly to transgender employees, and could contribute to a perception of transphobia at the company. Paizo’s Leadership Team acknowledges the pain this caused, and we understand that we need to be better at recognizing issues where such decisions could have unintended results. We also recognize that such actions do not align with Paizo's core values, the values of its staff members, or the sentiments of diversity and inclusion expressed in Paizo products, and as such, have disappointed, angered, and confused members of our community. We believe these mistakes are not representative of who we are, or what we want the company to represent. We need to do better... and we will.

“As the person in charge of trade shows, I want to apologize to anyone that felt marginalized as a result of the convention decision-making process,” said Jeff Alvarez. “It was not our intent to discriminate against anyone, and I’m sorry.”

As previously communicated, Paizo has adopted a one-employee-per-room travel policy moving forward. Regardless of gender identity, couples will be allowed to share rooms during travel as long as both parties request it.

Paizo remains committed to maintaining a diverse, safe, and fun workplace where our employees are treated fairly and look forward to creating awesome Pathfinder and Starfinder products for many years to come. We hope that this update helps communicate that we, the Leadership Team, are doing our best to listen to and address the concerns of our community members. We believe in creating a better Paizo, and believe that transparency, communication, and accountability will be instrumental as we move forward. Thank you for your continued support of our company and our products.

Paizo Leadership Team
David, Erik, Jeff, Jim, Lisa, and Mike

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Silver Crusade

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Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:

I’ll put it this way.

If Paizo genuinely recognized that their perspective with respect to trans rights was wrong, then utilizing a law firm is really the only credible way of addressing the issue. The law firm would then be dedicated to helping them develop processes And procedures to help protect them from allegations of bigotry in the future.

As a secondary observation, Google reviews are worthless in assessing law firms. Big law firms don’t care about them, and their clients aren’t going to rate them. So all you are going to see are the “exceptions”, not the rule.

It wasn't just google reviews we looked at, it was the firm's own description of their fields of expertise. Paizo leadership stated that they were contracted because, and I quote:

The Blog Post above wrote:
We chose MH&H upon the recommendation of a consultant with expertise in matters of DEIB. MH&H has a team of attorneys that specialize in these issues, and we’re confident they’ll be able to provide an impartial analysis of the facts that we need to move forward with any corrective actions.

Now here is the lawfirm's page discussing their practice areas. Do you see DEIB anywhere on that list? I sure don't. Nor any variation of it, no diversity, no equity, no inclusion, no belonging. Now what I do see are:

Closely-Held/Family Business Practice Group
Dispute Resolution
Employment
Litigation

That seems to me like Paizo leadership was not actually expecting us to click the link, and to take their word on whether or not this firm specializes in what the blog post claims they do. Which seems immensely silly, since one of the prime things about this whole debacle is that Paizo leadership has broken the trust of the community almost irrevocably at this point, and this only makes that worse.


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Cori Marie wrote:

Now here is the lawfirm's page discussing their practice areas. Do you see DEIB anywhere on that list? I sure don't. Nor any variation of it, no diversity, no equity, no inclusion, no belonging. Now what I do see are:

Closely-Held/Family Business Practice Group
Dispute Resolution
Employment
Litigation

That seems to me like Paizo leadership was not actually expecting us to click the link, and to take their word on whether or not this firm specializes in what the blog post claims they do. Which seems immensely silly, since one of the prime things about this whole debacle is that Paizo leadership has broken the trust of the community almost irrevocably at this point, and this only makes that worse.

Cori Marie - I respect your input, and I trust your opinions on this matter. I was reacting to the assertion that all attorneys are out to “destroy” others, nothing more. You raise some valid points.

I was also just sharing my knowledge of how law firms work in the US. Truly competent firms rarely care about Google reviews and get their business via word-of-mouth. There may also be an “affordability” factor in terms of what firm they can afford to do the investigation. But by all means, I am 100% in favor of the community doing their own research.


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Master Han Del of the Web wrote:
Any group hired on solely by the execs is going to have a vested interest in making their clients happy.

This is not - strictly speaking - the problem you make it out to be.

If, for example, the client recognizes their mistakes and the need to fix those mistakes and honestly wishes to avoid those mistakes in the future, then performing an honest investigation is making the client happy.

The problem of course is that we don't exactly have compelling evidence that is where Paizo is coming from.


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Cori Marie wrote:
Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:

I’ll put it this way.

If Paizo genuinely recognized that their perspective with respect to trans rights was wrong, then utilizing a law firm is really the only credible way of addressing the issue. The law firm would then be dedicated to helping them develop processes And procedures to help protect them from allegations of bigotry in the future.

As a secondary observation, Google reviews are worthless in assessing law firms. Big law firms don’t care about them, and their clients aren’t going to rate them. So all you are going to see are the “exceptions”, not the rule.

It wasn't just google reviews we looked at, it was the firm's own description of their fields of expertise. Paizo leadership stated that they were contracted because, and I quote:

The Blog Post above wrote:
We chose MH&H upon the recommendation of a consultant with expertise in matters of DEIB. MH&H has a team of attorneys that specialize in these issues, and we’re confident they’ll be able to provide an impartial analysis of the facts that we need to move forward with any corrective actions.

Now here is the lawfirm's page discussing their practice areas. Do you see DEIB anywhere on that list? I sure don't. Nor any variation of it, no diversity, no equity, no inclusion, no belonging. Now what I do see are:

Closely-Held/Family Business Practice Group
Dispute Resolution
Employment
Litigation

That seems to me like Paizo leadership was not actually expecting us to click the link, and to take their word on whether or not this firm specializes in what the blog post claims they do. Which seems immensely silly, since one of the prime things about this whole debacle is that Paizo leadership has broken the trust of the community almost irrevocably at this point, and this only makes that worse.

I am not suggesting that the rest of their blurb fills me with confidence, but under the Employment section they do have

"Accordingly, the firm regularly counsels clients on how to avoid problems and minimize risk with respect to such issues as employee discipline, alleged harassment, the protection of trade secrets, reductions in force, severance and other matters."

This and their dispute resolution team imply they have some experience in these matters and were recommended by an outside consultant.

While I have no high expectations, I do hope for the best and wait to see how I can best continue to support those I care about within the company, those who do the work and provide the products and services I value.


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The union is the only thing keeping me going here, not gonna lie.


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Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:
If Paizo genuinely recognized that their perspective with respect to trans rights was wrong, then utilizing a law firm is really the only credible way of addressing the issue.

Is it?

I'm an outsider on virtually all of the issues here, but I can think. Doesn't a law firm specialize in matters of the law? Legal compliance and the like?

The reason I ask is because some of the most important parts of what has been discussed recently aren't legal matters. They're ethical matters.

Surely there's some sort of consultant group that specializes in how to treat people, and legal compliance would be a side-effect of treating people right?

My point is that a law firm telling someone "it's illegal to use this word" doesn't teach that someone why use of that word is bad, won't change attitudes, and will result in using some other word which is technically complaint but still hurtful. The goal should be to educate so the desire to use similar words is recognized as unfair and therefore stops.

Just a thought.


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MaxAstro wrote:
Master Han Del of the Web wrote:
Any group hired on solely by the execs is going to have a vested interest in making their clients happy.

This is not - strictly speaking - the problem you make it out to be.

If, for example, the client recognizes their mistakes and the need to fix those mistakes and honestly wishes to avoid those mistakes in the future, then performing an honest investigation is making the client happy.

The problem of course is that we don't exactly have compelling evidence that is where Paizo is coming from.

Bolded for emphasis

I would argue that we have compelling evidence that the position of the Paizo execs is, in fact, the opposite. Between the repeated allegations of toxic upper management and the exceptionally hollow corporate apologia. Where the problems of the company are coming from is painfully obvious. They don't need a bunch of suits with little to no skin in the game to identify whether something is transphobic or not. They need to listen to trans people and trans people have been very clear.


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Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:
"Master Han Del of the Web” wrote:
This is the execs realizing they have profoundly screwed up the situation and circling the wagons against accountability before their opposition is fully organized.

Hey, nothing I am going to say is going to overcome raw cynicism. Yes, a firm hired by the the company is going to look out for the best interests of the company.

But looking out for the best interests of a company doesn’t necessarily mean sweeping issues under the rug. A good firm going to gather evidence, evaluate facts, and advise their client on a course of action.

Let me say for clarity: I am not arguing that this is a good firm to handle an investigation, or that the outcome of the investigation will be the “right” outcome. And Paizo could get good advice and choose to disregard it.

But if your argument is that BECAUSE Paizo hired a firm it is PROOF that they are acting in bad faith, well, you are wrong.

Don't ascribe attitude based on whether you agree with my analysis. If we start shouting 'cynic' and 'naive' back and forth nothing is going to get done.

The fact of the matter is that they were not hired by the company, they were hired by the execs. Execs do not solely compose the company or even make up a notable percentage. If they did worker strikes would be meaningless. The body that specifically works to represent the vast majority of the people in the company (ie the 'company') is the union and they were neither consulted nor (to my knowledge) endorse this move.

To be clear, my argument is that the execs have interests that are in opposition to those of the workers and a significant number of us, hiring the law firm without bringing the union in demonstrates a level of bad-faith, and that this all follows a corporate script that ends with them trying to sweep this all under a rug. It's not cynicism, it's a healthy dose of Marx mixed with having watched this sort of thing happen repeatedly in the video game industry.

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numbat1 wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:

I’ll put it this way.

If Paizo genuinely recognized that their perspective with respect to trans rights was wrong, then utilizing a law firm is really the only credible way of addressing the issue. The law firm would then be dedicated to helping them develop processes And procedures to help protect them from allegations of bigotry in the future.

As a secondary observation, Google reviews are worthless in assessing law firms. Big law firms don’t care about them, and their clients aren’t going to rate them. So all you are going to see are the “exceptions”, not the rule.

It wasn't just google reviews we looked at, it was the firm's own description of their fields of expertise. Paizo leadership stated that they were contracted because, and I quote:

The Blog Post above wrote:
We chose MH&H upon the recommendation of a consultant with expertise in matters of DEIB. MH&H has a team of attorneys that specialize in these issues, and we’re confident they’ll be able to provide an impartial analysis of the facts that we need to move forward with any corrective actions.

Now here is the lawfirm's page discussing their practice areas. Do you see DEIB anywhere on that list? I sure don't. Nor any variation of it, no diversity, no equity, no inclusion, no belonging. Now what I do see are:

Closely-Held/Family Business Practice Group
Dispute Resolution
Employment
Litigation

That seems to me like Paizo leadership was not actually expecting us to click the link, and to take their word on whether or not this firm specializes in what the blog post claims they do. Which seems immensely silly, since one of the prime things about this whole debacle is that Paizo leadership has broken the trust of the community almost irrevocably at this point, and this only makes that worse.

I am not suggesting that the rest of their blurb fills me with confidence, but under the Employment section...

Sure that's as close as you get to what Paizo leadership has claimed but it's still not a "team of attorneys that specialize in (DEIB - Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging)." There very much are lawfirms that do have teams that focus on that specific thing, I have in fact worked with such firms in the past. A focus on employment is not a focus on DEIB.


Master Han Del of the Web wrote:
To be clear, my argument is that the execs have interests that are in opposition to those of the workers and a significant number of us, hiring the law firm without bringing the union in demonstrates a level of bad-faith, and that this all follows a corporate script that ends with them trying to sweep this all under a rug. It's not cynicism, it's a healthy dose of Marx mixed with having watched this sort of thing happen repeatedly in the video game industry.

My statement about being cynical wasn’t intended to offend or imply anything about your attitude; I was just thought the raw definition applied (“ an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; skepticism”). And besides, as a GenX myself, often a healthy dose of cynicism is a good thing. :)

Yes, executives and workers have some interests that are “opposed”, at least on the short term. That’s the whole $1-extra-salary-means-$1-less-profit perspective. But they actually have more interests that are aligned. A successful company is good for both workers and executives, good compensation ensures good talent, both want to create a good product (at least in terms of Paizo). And helping Paizo develop a workplace free from discrimination and bigotry is both a legally correct and an ethically correct approach.

As far as waiting for the union, well, this has been a crisis for some time. I recall calls for the retention of a law firm to do an investigation on page 1 of Jeff’s insufficient blog post two months ago, so there is some urgency to make this happen. So waiting to negotiate something with the union could rightly have been seen as just another example of them doing “nothing”.

Silver Crusade

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Okay but page one of Jeff's insufficient blog post was before the announcement of the union. That was before people knew that was something that was likely to happen. And again, the problem is that Paizo leadership is intentionally misleading people about what this firm does. Employment law and DEIB law are two different, often opposed types of law. A firm specializing in employment law is what the business owner who fired me for being trans hired when I sued for discrimination. A DEIB specializing firm is the firm I hired.


Cori Marie wrote:
Employment law and DEIB law are two different, often opposed types of law. A firm specializing in employment law is what the business owner who fired me for being trans hired when I sued for discrimination. A DEIB specializing firm is the firm I hired.

I don’t know much about DEIB. Do you have any references you can share?

On the face of it, Employment Law seems to be the correct specialty. Is DEIB like a specialty in that field? Like an orthopedic doctor versus an orthopedic surgeon?

Pardon the ignorance, and I know I can probably research it more myself, but I figured if I had questions others might too.

Silver Crusade

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It certainly is a subset of Employment law, but does not seem to be a subset this particular firm focuses on.

Moritt Hock's page on their employment law specialization wrote:
"We aggressively defend employers against the entire range of employment-related claims, including discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims"

A firm focusing on DEIB isn't going to put that phrasing in their section on Employment law, rather they'll put things like what Lambda Legal has in theirs

A firm focusing on DEIB is going to be focused on making things more inclusive and less discriminatory, rather than "aggressively defending" their client when discrimination happens.

For more on DEIB, start here

Silver Crusade

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Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:


If Paizo genuinely recognized that their perspective with respect to trans rights was wrong, then utilizing a law firm is really the only credible way of addressing the issue.

I'm genuinely curious, this is NOT snark.

Why?

What does a law firm bring to the table that some consulting firm concentrating on trans rights (or, hopefully, more broad human rights) doesn't?

I'm not a lawyer, I'm not American and I don't live in Washington state. But surely there is a huge, huge gap between the absolute minimum that the law requires and what an ethical company actually SHOULD do?


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Wouldn't one of the best ways that Paizo could address trans rights and LGBTQIA+ issues would be to engage with organisations like Stonewall, etc.?

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Cori Marie wrote:
Okay but page one of Jeff's insufficient blog post was before the announcement of the union. That was before people knew that was something that was likely to happen. And again, the problem is that Paizo leadership is intentionally misleading people about what this firm does. Employment law and DEIB law are two different, often opposed types of law. A firm specializing in employment law is what the business owner who fired me for being trans hired when I sued for discrimination. A DEIB specializing firm is the firm I hired.

And on top of this: the calls were for a third party to help resolve the issue, but the implicit understanding is that the resolution is done *properly.* In other words, hiring any third party (particularly one whose specialty appears to be to defend employers from...uh...lawsuits brought on by legitimately aggrieved employees) isn't resolving the issue as requested under Jeff's original response. It's obeying the letter or the request but not its spirit, akin to "fixing" someone's bad plumbing by just duct-taping all of the leaks. You've technically done the thing...but not well, and have demonstrated that you are not inclined to engage in good faith. Which is what I see as Paizo execs are doing here: they're going on the defensive, *claiming* (in a manner that's almost embarrassingly easy to double-check them on) that this is for the good of the staff, and basically admitting that they're uninterested in solving the root problem. Only insulting themselves from consequences.

Grand Lodge

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pauljathome wrote:
What does a law firm bring to the table that some consulting firm concentrating on trans rights (or, hopefully, more broad human rights) doesn't?

Its all about protecting your own interests. The UPW has consulted with experts in the field of union organization and negotiation. As they should. The leaders of the union do not have the experience to know what is the best way to handle the situation moving forward and the best way to get the benefits they want.

Similarly, Paizo has consulted (hired the law firm) who has experience with union negotiating and such. The firm may not have a department with specific experience with DEIB, but all the reviews and evidence demonstrate one important thing—they "win" in their client's favor. While they might be successful in identifying problematic behavior and help formulate correction, but their primary goal is, like any law firm, to reduce or eliminate the risk of litigation against the company. At a time when their behavior has certainly crossed ethical lines and may have crossed legal ones, it would demonstrate even more bad business acumen if they didn't hire a renown and recognized law firm to represent them.

Silver Crusade

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TwilightKnight wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
What does a law firm bring to the table that some consulting firm concentrating on trans rights (or, hopefully, more broad human rights) doesn't?
Its all about protecting your own interests. .

I understand why law firms are good if your only goal is to cover your ass. But I think that Vardoc meant something else.

Certainly I (and I think many people on this thread) hope that Paizo is trying to do more than just cover its ass legally. That is just not at all sufficient at this point.


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pauljathome wrote:
What does a law firm bring to the table that some consulting firm concentrating on trans rights (or, hopefully, more broad human rights) doesn't?

To my knowledge, most consulting firms are law firms. I’m sure there are exceptions. But I would expect a consulting firm to provide advice on how to interact with the trans community, while a law firm would help them encode any change into their policies and procedures. Plus, a credible firm would retain and consult with appropriate experts.

Again - not defending the choice of this particular firm, which is up for debate. Just saying the choice of retaining a law firm for the purposes of completing an investigation is not “by definition” bad faith.

Silver Crusade

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Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
What does a law firm bring to the table that some consulting firm concentrating on trans rights (or, hopefully, more broad human rights) doesn't?

To my knowledge, most consulting firms are law firms. I’m sure there are exceptions. But I would expect a consulting firm to provide advice on how to interact with the trans community, while a law firm would help them encode any change into their policies and procedures. Plus, a credible firm would retain and consult with appropriate experts.

Sorry, I'm honestly not trying to be dense. But I just don't understand your answer.

Why would a law form be better at encoding change into policy and procedures? What benefit do you get by having the law firm consult the appropriate experts as opposed to just consulting those experts yourself?

Somebody upthread suggested stonewall. I suspect they're referring to the UK organization. But I just did a google search for "Washington state inclusive workplace consultants" and got lots of hits (not all of which are necessarily in Washington but some certainly are). If I was in charge of Paizo and genuinely wanted to make changes (as opposed to just covering my ass) I'd start there.

Edit: Just going to quote the blurb for my first hit in the above search to help make my point.

"We help organizations create diverse, equitable and inclusive (DEI) workplaces.

When everyone in the workplace feels empowered to thrive and contribute, good talent stays. New ideas emerge. Business is better equipped to compete in today's multicultural, rapidly changing, global economy.

The Diversity Center of Seattle supports organizations ready to build work environments that foster trust, respect and productivity that support both individual and corporate values. We're not about one-off workshops to demonstrate compliance. We're about real change. "

Isn't that pretty much EXACTLY what we want?


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pauljathome wrote:
What benefit do you get by having the law firm consult the appropriate experts as opposed to just consulting those experts yourself?

Off the top of my head the primary benefit would be having people who could assure you that the policy changes you are making are not in some way illegal, which given how labyrinthine the US legal code is seems like it's probably harder than it sounds.

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Very rarely are you going to wind up doing something illegal to further DEIB.


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pauljathome wrote:
Why would a law form be better at encoding change into policy and procedures? What benefit do you get by having the law firm consult the appropriate experts as opposed to just consulting those experts yourself?

If you want to debate whether a law firm or a consulting firm is “better”, I’ll exit here - I’m neither an expert nor a corporate attorney, so my opinion won’t add much to the debate.

I entered and will exit on the “attorneys destroy people” and “hiring a law firm is proof of bad faith” arguments.


Internal investigations, which is what the firm has been hired to do, have traditionally been performed by law firms. That’s not always the case today, but is still generally the trend. The skills needed for to perform an internal investigation tend to overlap with those needed for fact development for a lawsuit. That’s outside of the skillset of consulting firms unless they specialize in investigations. Another advantage of using a law firm is that work product created by the firm will enjoy greater protections from discovery in the event of a lawsuit.

Law firms that represent employers generally only represent employers, and vice versa for firms that do plaintiffs work. Firms can quickly run into client conflicts by representing both employers and employees in employment disputes.

The statement that most consulting firms are law firms is incorrect. Law firms are subject to regulation by state bars that consulting firms don’t want to get into, and there are restrictions on sharing legal fees with non-lawyers.

The suggestion that a firm be jointly hired by the company and the union is probably not doable. The firm would be subject to directly competing client interests and would be prevented by ethical rules from representing both in the same matter.

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Again, it's not the hiring of the law firm we're taking as bad faith, it's the LYING about what they specialize in that is bad faith.


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Cori Marie wrote:
Again, it's not the hiring of the law firm we're taking as bad faith, it's the LYING about what they specialize in that is bad faith.

Honestly, any and all lies, but to be so transparent is frankly insulting.


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Cori Marie wrote:
Again, it's not the hiring of the law firm we're taking as bad faith, it's the LYING about what they specialize in that is bad faith.

Hold up a step there. Here is what I am seeing:

“Blog Post” wrote:
We have hired the law firm of Moritt Hock & Hamroff (MH&H) to investigate allegations of discrimination against trans employees and sexual misconduct before reporting back to the Leadership Team.

And from the MH&H website:

“HM&M Website” wrote:
While our employment attorneys are experienced and aggressive litigators, they also recognize that employers often prefer to avoid litigation if possible. Accordingly, the firm regularly counsels clients on how to avoid problems and minimize risk with respect to such issues as employee discipline, alleged harassment, the protection of trade secrets, reductions in force, severance and other matters. In addition, we draft and review employee handbooks, policies and contracts that define and regulate the employment relationship, including employment contracts and separation agreements.

Maybe I’m missing it, but it sounds like they do what Paizo is asking them to do. Maybe not in the exact format folks would like to see, but in legal lingo, “minimize risk” includes recommending clear policies that prevent allegations of harassment and discrimination. Paizo also couples this with a commitment to hire an HR manager with experience with both DEIB and working with a union. So at least in my mind, those are both strides in the right direction.

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Cori Marie wrote:
Again, it's not the hiring of the law firm we're taking as bad faith, it's the LYING about what they specialize in that is bad faith.

How do you know they are lying about it? Because the firm’s web page doesn’t say it? That’s the basis of your claim they are lying?


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Cori Marie wrote:
Very rarely are you going to wind up doing something illegal to further DEIB.

Philosophically, I am inclined to agree with you. But given the history of federal and state law in just the last few decades, I can't be so sure.

Silver Crusade

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Mark Stratton wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
Again, it's not the hiring of the law firm we're taking as bad faith, it's the LYING about what they specialize in that is bad faith.
How do you know they are lying about it? Because the firm’s web page doesn’t say it? That’s the basis of your claim they are lying?

yeah.

If they specialize in something, they would mention it.


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Yeah, otherwise it's not really a specialty, it's just "something we sometimes do".


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I know that I often walk into random businesses and ask if they might secretly also do optometry work on the side.

It's so hard to find a good optometrist. =(


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I'm getting tired of arguing this point.

Hiring lawyers that do not explicitly specialize in DEIB is a transparent ploy.

Hiring lawyers at all is just an effort to cover their asses against legal action by those they hurt.

This is a very public and familiar playbook.

The policy was transphobic, the upper management is toxic, there investigation done.

If they want their efforts trusted, get the union involved or make the sort of organizational changes that would prevent things from getting this far again in the future. Hire the sort of people that explicitly specialize in his stuff to get the job done or don't bother telling us about it.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
Mark Stratton wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
Again, it's not the hiring of the law firm we're taking as bad faith, it's the LYING about what they specialize in that is bad faith.
How do you know they are lying about it? Because the firm’s web page doesn’t say it? That’s the basis of your claim they are lying?

If a law firm has a team that specializes in a certain field it would be stupid for them to not advertise that. So either this law firm is utterly inept and doesn't advertise that they have a team that specializes in DEIB — a thing that can make them more money, or Paizo falsely stated that they do have a team that specializes in DEIB when they don't. Which do you think is more likely, that a law firm would keep a specialization off of their website and miss getting those clients, or that Paizo's leadership team that has been as opaque as can be this entire time would mislead people about the intentions of hiring this particular firm? It's an Occam's Razor situation, and one of these is a much more likely option.

Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
Again, it's not the hiring of the law firm we're taking as bad faith, it's the LYING about what they specialize in that is bad faith.

Hold up a step there. Here is what I am seeing:

“Blog Post” wrote:
We have hired the law firm of Moritt Hock & Hamroff (MH&H) to investigate allegations of discrimination against trans employees and sexual misconduct before reporting back to the Leadership Team.

And from the MH&H website:

“HM&M Website” wrote:
While our employment attorneys are experienced and aggressive litigators, they also recognize that employers often prefer to avoid litigation if possible. Accordingly, the firm regularly counsels clients on how to avoid problems and minimize risk with respect to such issues as employee discipline, alleged harassment, the protection of trade secrets, reductions in force, severance and other matters. In addition, we draft and review employee handbooks, policies and contracts that define and regulate the employment relationship, including employment contracts and separation agreements.
Maybe I’m missing it, but it sounds like they do what Paizo is asking them to do. Maybe not in the exact format folks would like to see, but in legal lingo, “minimize risk” includes recommending clear policies that prevent allegations of harassment and discrimination. Paizo also couples this with a commitment to hire an HR manager with experience with both DEIB and working with a union. So at least in my mind, those are both strides in the right direction.

Yes, that's the paragraph after they state that their primary service in employment law is to "aggressively defend" their clients against claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation. As someone who has actually been involved in such a case, this screams to me that they are there to fight first, and settle later, much like the firm that I went up against.

The Blog Post, but bolded for emphasis, since people seem to ignore this part wrote:
We chose MH&H upon the recommendation of a consultant with expertise in matters of DEIB. MH&H has a team of attorneys that specialize in these issues

Horizon Hunters

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I don’t get to quite the same place as Cori Marie about Paizo lying (at least, not yet) but her post did make me think a bit and I am left with an unsettling question to which I don’t have an answer:

Does anyone at Paizo even have the least bit of experience or knowledge regarding corporate governance?

As I try to see Cori Marie’s point about Paizo lying, I try to consider other plausible alternatives, such as:

1. The consultant that recommend MH&H and told Paizo that the firm has a team of attorneys that specialize in these issues.

2. The firm told Paizo they have a team of attorney that specialize in these issues.

Now, in either of those two cases, the basic tenets of corporate governance would have required Paizo to verify those statements if they were to then make a claim that the firm had those attorneys. And if the firm represented that they have a team of attorneys that specialize in these issues, but really doesn’t, I’m pretty sure that’s fraud (I’m not a lawyer, but I think it would be.)

But at some point, Paizo would have needed to verify these claims. So, for me, I would want Paizo to tell us HOW they evaluated the firm so they could be in the position to make the claim they did about that team of attorneys.


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That quote seems to be a lie by implication. They talked to a consultant who specialized in DEIB and were directed to a law firm that specializes in "these issues"--and we're supposed to assume that "these issues" are DEIB, when actually they're "how to help a corporation when its employees get all whiny and uppity".


Mark Stratton wrote:

Does anyone at Paizo even have the least bit of experience or knowledge regarding corporate governance?

Paizo is an itty bitty company in a niche field. Soaking wet what is the company worth - $10M? We’ve seen elsewhere what they pay their staff, so I imagine their margins are pretty thin. I mean, they aren’t Hasbro. So I doubt they have access to experts in corporate governance.


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We don't know Paizo's margins. Only the leadership knows. We do know that smaller gaming companies have been able to pay their employees a lot better--SKR mentioned Monte Cook Games as an example. So I kind of suspect the whole "Paizo's barely breaking even" shtick at this point.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
We don't know Paizo's margins. Only the leadership knows. We do know that smaller gaming companies have been able to pay their employees a lot better--SKR mentioned Monte Cook Games as an example. So I kind of suspect the whole "Paizo's barely breaking even" shtick at this point.

You are correct, and I muddied my point by making that argument. However, even if Paizo were making money hand-over-fist, they are still tiny when compared to the corporate world at large.


According to https://growjo.com/, Paizo has a revenue of around 34.5 million.

Paizo Employee Software Architect

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Gamerskum wrote:

According to https://growjo.com/, Paizo has a revenue of around 34.5 million.

According to Growjo.com, Paizo has nearly twice as many employees as it actually does, and our major competitors include a newspaper in Yakima, WA and the Washington Law Review. Most sites like that would rather take a wild guess about a piece of data than not have a piece of data at all. Completeness creates the illusion of accuracy.


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If I understand correctly, Paizo not being publicly traded means they don't have to share much information about their revenue or expenses, even with their employees. The union may attempt to change this, at least internally, as negotiations over salaries and benefits will probably be pretty hard if leadership can baldly lie to them about how a raise would "bankrupt the company" and the sort.

You know, like how whenever someone on the forums talks about hiring a diversity officer or sensitivity readers, suddenly five posters appear out of the woodwork to express their terror that this will surely put Paizo in the red, and then we have to waste three days and two moderation sweeps before we can get back on-topic.


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TwilightKnight wrote:


Just found it to be odd that a voluntary public figure with one of their primary functions being recruitment and accessibility to the community, especially people who are not currently participating, would not be identified as such. I have come to realize that I have a much different opinion on privacy than many in this community.

I'm with you here, I find it a really strange disconnect that people who have put themselves up as the public face of the community are also asking for anonymity. Pick one.

Silver Crusade

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Brian Bauman wrote:


According to Growjo.com, our major competitors include ... Washington Law Review.

Can somebody please point me to a link for the games that the Washington Law Review publishes? Papers and Paychecks, I presume :-). Always wanted to try that one.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
If I understand correctly, Paizo not being publicly traded means they don't have to share much information about their revenue or expenses, even with their employees.

To be fair, are there any ttrpg companies that do this? Or any privately held companies of this size that do that? This hardly seems unique to Paizo.


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Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
If I understand correctly, Paizo not being publicly traded means they don't have to share much information about their revenue or expenses, even with their employees.
To be fair, are there any ttrpg companies that do this? Or any privately held companies of this size that do that? This hardly seems unique to Paizo.

Fred Hicks from Evil Hat has historically been incredibly transparent about their company finances.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

Indeed there is a TTRPG company that does this


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Besides which, a bad industry norm is the responsibility of every individual company that upholds it, just like a bad societal norm is the responsibility of every individual person who upholds it. "Everybody else is doing it" is only a serious justification in stock crashes. :P

Not that I'm saying Vardoc is defending the behavior, of course.


Calling Hasbro a TTRPG company is a little silly, it's a bit like calling Phillips Morris a food company just because it owns Kraft.

Notice you can't tell how much of Hasbro's profits are TTRPG's it's likely drastically less than .1%. Hell they weren't even interested in D&D so much as Magic.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Not that I'm saying Vardoc is defending the behavior, of course.

Correct! :)

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