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.


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."

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Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for Noformation

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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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?

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for GrayHalo

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

Avatar image for colbster

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

Avatar image for Robinvd

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

Avatar image for pyth0n13

tha's what they deserve

Avatar image for Fuuuuureakkkk

So thats why catwoman sucked

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for deactivated-59ff149c6b46d

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!

Avatar image for GPSnake03


Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for mierdahp

We should boycott EA!!!!

Avatar image for mierdahp

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

Avatar image for Chedda925

Corporate people suck when really the regular man do the work

Avatar image for 00Rambol00

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

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for masiisam

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

Avatar image for Night_Frost

Wow...no wonder EA Games suck so much

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for geoffclark

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

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for DeltaSpirit

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

Avatar image for Mordamir

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

Avatar image for 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...

Avatar image for DiscGuru101

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

Avatar image for 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... =(

Avatar image for thekey

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

Avatar image for i_love_my_ds

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

Avatar image for 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 !!!!

Avatar image for luis7989_7

first, the majority of EA

Avatar image for luis7989_7

what the hell !!!

Avatar image for homiebo

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

Avatar image for Mew3692002

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

Avatar image for 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!

Avatar image for miggidy24

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

Avatar image for 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????

Avatar image for Cheshie

Yeah no wonder EA's games are so garbage.

Avatar image for DrKill09

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

Avatar image for meowthrules


Avatar image for 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"

Avatar image for bildo2020

EA SUCKS! hahaha

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for 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.