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Activision faces labor suit

Former employee files suit against publisher alleging violation of overtime laws, wrongful termination.

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Two years ago, the "EA Spouse" scandal hit Electronic Arts, leading to a class-action lawsuit that the largest American game publisher settled out of court in October of 2005. Now the second-largest American publisher faces a similar fight, as a former Activision employee this month filed suit against the company for violations of state and federal labor laws.

In the suit, a former Activision employee accuses the publisher of consistently violating labor laws for the last three years by not properly paying employees for the hours they worked. The employee contends that Activision violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by knowingly misclassifying some of its employees as exempt from overtime pay and minimum wage laws.

That violation she says is compounded by the publisher's failure to provide its employees with an accurate record of their hours worked, adding that the company was engaging in unfair competition by underpaying members of its workforce. She is also suing the company for wrongfully terminating her when she brought these complaints to her superiors. The employee is asking for unpaid wages with interest for current and former employees, the legal costs associated with filing the suit, and punitive damages.

"As a direct result of the unlawful and wrongful termination by defendant employers, [the plaintiff] has suffered substantial losses in earnings and job benefits, and has suffered humiliation and extreme and severe mental anguish and emotional distress normally associated with wrongful termination," the suit reads.

The former employee did not specify the amount of money sought, but depending on how many people join the suit, a victory could cost Activision millions of dollars. The settlement in the suit stemming from the EA Spouse controversy cost Electronic Arts $14.9 million.

This is the second suit against Activision to come to light this week. A shareholder of the publisher is also suing a number of its current and former executives, claiming they backdated stock options. As of press time, Activision representatives had not returned requests for comment on either lawsuit.

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