EA settles OT dispute, disgruntled "spouse" outed

Publisher will pay $14.9 million to programmers for overdue overtime; identity of blogging "EA spouse" that brought matter to attention revealed.

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In late 2004, Electronic Arts was tainted by the public revelation of a class-action lawsuit that asked for unpaid overtime to "a good number" of EA employees. The suit contended that several EA employees were not paid properly for long work hours--EA claimed they were exempt.

Jaime Kirschenbaum vs. Electronic Arts was filed earlier that year on behalf of many of the company's graphic artists. Kirschenbaum was, at the time, a member of The Sims 2 team. The suit was settled last year for $15.6 million.

The matter really came to the forefront of the media when a blog post by someone who claimed to be the spouse of an EA employee ripped into EA for unfairly treating its workers. The blogger compared working at EA to being incarcerated, making note of time "off for good behavior" and describing a typical workweek as stretching from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m, Monday through Saturday.

Though the blog post had no legal firepower behind it, its description of an EA widow hit the heartstrings of fellow "EA spouses" and employees. The words were simply a personal account of what one person was going through, but they rallied a movement among employees against EA, which the blogger described as a "money factory."

A few months later, a second lawsuit against EA came to light representing EA's engineers and programmers, also seeking unpaid overtime wages. The lawsuit was brought on by Leander Hasty, an engineer from EALA who claimed that he and fellow workers "do not perform work that is original or creative and have no management responsibilities and are seldom allowed to use their own judgment." In short, Hasty claimed he and others were simply part of an assembly line.

Today, EA is settling Hasty's suit to the tune of $14.9 million, which will be divided among "former and current [EA] computer programmers." In addition, EA is reclassifying nearly 200 positions as eligible for overtime pay--however, they will no longer be given stock options.

The proximity in timing of the suit's filing and the blog post are more than simple coincidence. In the wake of the settlement of the EA engineers' class-action lawsuit, the San Jose Mercury News today revealed the identity of the "EA spouse" that helped EA employees bring their matter to the courts. Mercury reporter Nicole Wong posted an interview with Erin Hoffman, who, until today, had remained anonymous. Hoffman is the formerly disgruntled and current spouse of Hasty, the first plaintiff in the EA engineers' class-action lawsuit.

Hasty resigned shortly after his contract with EA expired, and he and Hoffman moved to Troy, New York, where they both work at independent developer 1st Playable Productions. Hoffman has since started the Web site GameWatch.org, a forum where game-industry workers can openly discuss their employers' operations.

Though Hoffman and Hasty had their differences with EA's policies, one company edict wasn't ignored--EA's old motto of "Challenge Everything."

Discussion

132 comments
Tseng
Tseng

I worked at the Redwood City office (the global HQ) as a game tester for Rock Band 2. For us, a typical work day (if we had a deadline) would be from 10 AM to 9 PM, including some Saturdays. Lucky for me, I got paid overtime and it was optional, so if I was busy I didn't have to stay. I'm sure it is worse for the artists, but at least they are paying their employees now, ha ha.

Noformation
Noformation

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

soulcalibur7
soulcalibur7

I've been to EA's main studio in Redshores, pretty nice facilities, they offer everything from a cafeteria to a child care center which is unusual since most game companies are smaller and don't have as many benefits, however, I have also heard from fellow classmates that end up there that you have no creative direction, which sucks for any artist.

goldeneye_basic
goldeneye_basic

colbster "They drove the James Bond franchise into the ground. Assclowns." They sure did. As you can tell by my nick, I like Goldeneye. I'm also pissed that they have that exclusive deal with the NFL.

nth1739
nth1739

gFORCEFAN hit the nail on the head. Typical engineering positions do not pay overtime. I work as a design engineer (non-gaming related) and do not receive compensation for any work past 40 hrs a week. I wouldn't hold it against EA that they don't pay overtime since most large companies use the same pay policy for their engineers. However an employer can abuse this situation and it sounds like that may be the case at EA. Best advice for those entering the work force is talk to other company employees before you agree to accept a position. Don't be afraid to ask blunt questions like, do you like working here? Do you like your hours? What don't you like about your company?

Gforcefan
Gforcefan

Many employees in many different industries don't get overtime. You receive a flat salary - usually with possible bonuses or stock options, etc. Lawyers (associates), doctors, most engineers, management positions, creative artists, writers, etc. We get a flat sum no matter how much we work. That is why they are taking away the stock options. They are being re-classified as hourly employees.

EarthThatWas
EarthThatWas

Could someone please explain to me how an employer can be exempt from paying overtime? Sounds like EA is the Walmart of the gaming world.

GrayHalo
GrayHalo

I stopped calling any thing from EA software, to me its all disappoinment-ware

colbster
colbster

They drove the James Bond franchise into the ground. Assclowns.

Robinvd
Robinvd

EA cant make games. Stupid EA only wants to see people buying there games. and thats why i hate them

Flimsyfishy
Flimsyfishy

this article makes me not want to be absolved by ea... oh well, it will be work when i graduate in 3 years for game design

RockMan-NEO
RockMan-NEO

man man man...the only games that are good for me are Fight night round 3, Def Jam: Fight for NY, and burn out revenge. It seems that all the other games that came out realy really suck!

BonelessBone
BonelessBone

EA has finally opened its eyes and ears. "So EA treats thier programmers like crap. Mabey that's why thier games suck so much."---delusional696 Haha, I concur. Although Black was alright.

mierdahp
mierdahp

We should boycott EA!!!!

mierdahp
mierdahp

I wonder why so many people still buy games like NBA of FIFA Soccer every year or why they buy them at all.

Chedda925
Chedda925

Corporate people suck when really the regular man do the work

00Rambol00
00Rambol00

EA do my head in..... these developers workin their asses off an EA treats them like poo

PR3D4TOR2
PR3D4TOR2

huh ? i like burnout revenge on xbox360 ^^ i dont think they really sux hehehehe well i didnt play many games of ea company but i think the burnout game is kewl ^^ keep on

masiisam
masiisam

#### EA there games suck anyways...

Night_Frost
Night_Frost

Wow...no wonder EA Games suck so much

barJerubsheol
barJerubsheol

yeah EA does suck...but if everybody keeps bying their sucky games just cause they recognize the names nothings gonna change...seriously everybody should just buy up the competitions products....STOP BUYING MADDEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it sucks anyways...espn 2k5 was better than madden 06....and by the way..shame on the NFL for being a freaking sellout...thats my two cents

Deepfreezed
Deepfreezed

EA does suck big time. GameSpot could do more to help with this situation. They should be harsher on ports and mediocre games. When doing hands-on or previews, tell the truth rather than going around it.

geoffclark
geoffclark

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alabaster46
alabaster46

Has anyone had any good experiences working with a video game company? In light of this conversation, it seems that 'EA sucks and Video Game Publishers are money hogs,' but has anyone had any good experiences with the game industry? To add my comment about the article, I think that what EA did is terrible and if they are still treating their employees like this, they are going to end up like Interplay... Bankrupt

PatlaborAV98
PatlaborAV98

well physichally and mentally they are exhausted not only that but theres more pressure from managers and stuff trying to push thier games out fast which isnt good for the workers

DeltaSpirit
DeltaSpirit

I don't get how there employees work from sun up to sun down and there games suck

Mordamir
Mordamir

EA used to make good games, but now it's no more than a Enterprise Behemot

cruzroja
cruzroja

Yeah, that was when the game industry actually had money, and even then it depended on the company. What I'm wondering is if these are reasonable suits. 15.6 and 14.9 million, for overtime? Guess everyone's stingy nowadays...

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

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DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

Big companies are treating all of thier key works like rats. Video game companies are no exception. They use to treat them like rock stars just a few years back... =(

thekey
thekey

I don't know what all that over time was for, because 90% of there catalog sucks. (And so do the games.)

i_love_my_ds
i_love_my_ds

Damn..........EA seriuously sucks........hahaha i dont know i just wanted to say that really bad

luis7989_7
luis7989_7

and they only going to release fifas, maddens, etc. been sucessed by 07, 08, 09, for a thousand years, until they reach FIFA 2941 !!!!

homiebo
homiebo

its pretty sad that the EA workers feed up with that for a long time jeez. guess it was time to strike back

Mew3692002
Mew3692002

Wow once I get into the industry as a game designer I'm not working for them!

OtterX
OtterX

I live not too far from the EA Tiberon Studios.... Their terrible business reputation stretches all across the state of Florida. Time after time I hear of stories of a cheap, greedy and coldhearted company that cares little about its employees. Kudos to this wife who got the ball rolling in the right direction!

miggidy24
miggidy24

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miggidy24
miggidy24

Chebwa and cal_hooper; So according to you guy's logic, a woman should just quit her job if she doesn't like to be sexually harrassed? What EA was doing is ILLEGAL! Why in the world do you think this is costing them to the tune of millions????

Cheshie
Cheshie

Yeah no wonder EA's games are so garbage.

DrKill09
DrKill09

What happened to the good EA of Road Rash and Desert Strike?

Nawras
Nawras

It's funny how this giant is buying all the other companies but isn't paying its employees. I think EA is the videogame "Microsoft"

borashed
borashed

ea games sucks everyone knows this as a fact yet it sells millions copies of its periodly updated games how is that ??? boycott EA boycott the evil corporation

mattdotexe
mattdotexe

>>>> (btw....overtime is better than stock options) depending on the company you work for like Microsoft. Since EA is still growing I wouldn't doubt that in a few years a decent amount of stock with them is going to be worth a helluva lot more than what you paid for it.