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EA Settles Overtime Lawsuit 54

Heffenfeffer writes "Gamasutra reports that Electronic Arts is settling their class action suit with their programmers to the tune of $14.9 million. It also turns out that one of the named plaintiffs of said lawsuit was the spouse of the formerly anonymous blogger "ea_spouse" who wrote a scathing commentary on EA over a year ago which may have formed the basis of this suit."
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EA Settles Overtime Lawsuit

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  • by sirius sam ( 963847 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @02:59PM (#15206739)
    The games industry can pay low wages and make people slave because it's "cool" and people want to be in it. Sad really.
    • Who is at fault here, the company for paying low wages or the people for accepting them?
      • by s16le ( 963839 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @03:05PM (#15206781)
        It is easy to say that people should not accept a job, or that they can quit. However, if they have a family to support, or have a medical condition and need the money or insurance coverage, not having a job for a few weeks while they find a new one might not be an option.
        • by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @03:26PM (#15206912)
          The issue is that video game programmers make substantially less then other programmers. The reason why this is so is because a lot of people want to specifically do video game programming instead of some other more lucrative type. In this case, their low wages really are their own fault.

          The key to happiness in this world is to find something that brings you some satisfaction and that pays enough to keep you happy. Some people are have very low needs and are happy with $20,000 and a job they find fully rewarding. Other people are happy making $100,000 on a job they would quit without even the curtsy of a two weeks notice they ever won the lottery.

          A few lucky people get the best of both worlds and work a high paying job that they love. I have met workaholic business owners that fill this exact category. One guy in particular that I know well over 80 hours a week owns a massive house with a dozen cars that he never uses because he is only home for more then a few days a month. He is probably going to die of a heart attack in the next 10 years, but he truly loves what he does and would probably do it for much less. I have also met people that dropped out of high school, got no education, and are working shit jobs that they hate for shit pay.

          Most people though, they really fall somewhere in-between. They balance self fulfillment in the working world with money. You don't go to school for a sociology major expecting to get out of college and run into a pile of money. People make their choices. This programs are no different. They have intentionally picked a field with poor pay. Using the education they already have they have the option of finding higher paid work. If making video games is what they really love to do though, then they need to find a balance. Is the shit pay worth the job? If it isn't, get the fuck out.
          • by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @06:14PM (#15208250) Journal
            While it's true that minimum working standards are non-capitalistic, that does not make them de facto bad. Take a look back in history at the working conditions of the 1920's. Worker safety was a joke; if you were sick, too bad, work or don't get paid; if you get seriously injured you were probably out of a job and well on your way to being dead broke. Pure capitalism is not functional, in the end it will degenrate into a form of feudalism (technically oligarcy) with a huge seperation between the have's and the have-not's. This will, almost inevitably, lead to civil unrest. In fact, in the early part of the 20th century, this is exactly where it lead. Workers unionized, and there were a lot of violent clashes. In the end, it was realized that there needs to be a balancing factor in the worker-employer relationship.
            If you look at the relationship between a worker and his employer it is naturally coersive. The employer has a measure of power over worker. Yes, technically the worker can leave at anytime, but this involves some level of risk, so the worker will be inclined to stay with a known quantity, rather than taking the risk; this is just human nature. The goal of employement laws is to prevent the employer from abusing this power, in order to pervent a race to the bottom condition, much like the US had in the 1920's. Which would lead to civil unrest.
          • Some people are have very low needs and are happy with $20,000 and a job they find fully rewarding.

            The flaw in that logic is that anyone can get sick without warning. The idea of being poor but happy is a charming but dangerous little fantasy. At the end of the day you need to make sure you can live with yourself and don't hate every waking moment but the fact is most people go to a job to earn a living, and living involves unexpected costs sometimes.
          • Making choices is all very well, but those choices need to be made on information. The EA employees in question were at least decieved, and perhaps even intentionaly lied to. The conditions they worked under were extreme even for the games industry, and their willingness to 'go that extra mile' for the company was ruthlessly exploited. If they'd been told the truth about what would eventualy be expected of them, there's no way they would have accepted it. EA either exploted them, or at least totaly missmana
      • mix of the two really. With the job market full of bursted bubblers it's hard for a new grad to get their foot in the door with a lot of companies. EA has a good policy for accepting programmers without 5+ years of experiance so they end up with a large number of fresh grads working for lower wages because they are still wet behind the ears. After 12 months of working a crappy job to pay the bills, and 1500 unansered resumes I applied there. I got a different job before EA offered an interview, but afte
        • >> EA has a good policy for accepting programmers without 5+ years of
          >>experiance so they end up with a large number of fresh grads working
          >>for lower wages because they are still wet behind the ears.

          while this is nice for the youngsters to "get their foot in the door", it is kind of is suspicious, don't you think? why do you think these fresh green pups had to work so many long hours? could it be inexperience?

          on the other hand, I know this problem is not ALL fresh young pups... stupid
          • note, I'm not railing on inexperienced programmers. They have their own set of problems and benefits I'm very aware of. the core problem (I'm guessing) is that of staffing and scheduling, which often sits squarly on mgmt...

            or maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. :)
            after all, I don't work there...
      • "Who is at fault here, the company for paying low wages or the people for accepting them?"
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Who is at fault, the rapist or the girl who didn't take a gun when she went shopping?
        Who is at fault, the dictator or the people who neither flee the country nor attempt a futile revolution?

        Newsflash -- the powerful always oppress the weak, and sometimes the weak have no option but to bend over and take it. Those like you who stand on the sidelines and sneer at the weak for not being powerful can fuck off and die. The rest of us, we appreciate it when the legal system steps in to ensure that everybody rec
        • Get real. Both of those situations involve force or its threat. When your employer screws you, it's hardly the same thing. I'm not saying there shouldn't be labor laws and legal protections, but don't equate long work hours with rape or the oppression of innocents by dictators. Not all power imbalances are equal or anything even close to it.
    • "The games industry can pay low wages"...


      "and make people slave because it's "cool" and people want to be in it. Sad really."


      Because game programming has non-monetary benefits, the employers can indeed pay lower and pressure for more hours. Did they truly MAKE them do it though? Of course not.

      If you don't like the job, then the responsibility is YOURS to renegotiate or go elsewhere.

      In this case it was "aggressive legal" negotiations. I think the progra
    • yeah, it's sad that they'll think working for a game company is cooler than working for whatever else industy. I am in the porn industry - so what? a job is a job. same shit everywhere. Roumen. P.S. the only sad thing I see is working for Microsoft and/or on a Microsoft-based platform.
  • All that overtime and their games still suck? []
    • by nocomment ( 239368 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @03:17PM (#15206854) Homepage Journal
      Maybe all that OT is the reason they suck?
      • The last EA game I bought (Command and Conquere Generals) had so many bugs it was basically unplayable out of the box. 12 months later there were still so many bugs that every other game ended literally in a few seconds at the hands of a cheater. 3+ years on I'm still holding my breath for the "ladder kit" that was promised. Their response to user complaints? They had one employee who would troll the message boards 1 day a week and make empty promises about balance issues, map hacks and cheats.

        Then they
    • Game creation is, the name implies it, a creative process. You start toying with ideas, you tinker with implementations, you twist and tweak one thing or another.

      Now, when your creativity, imagination and illusion are shattered under hours of overtime, you start to hate what you used to love. You stop wanting to create a great game, you start wanting to get that damn thing outta the door and never see it again.
  • by Burlap ( 615181 )
    just how much of that money each employee will actually see...
    • My thoughts exactly. The term "class action" in a lawsuit seems to guarantee that the actual "victims," for lack of a better term, see a few dollars from the settlement while the lawyers get enough to retire.
      • Maybe the victims can pool their EA gift certificates from the settlement to boost the sales of their own titles so their managers can get a nice bonus. Then, in appreciation, they'll get decent quality t-shirts and coffee mugs! Morale will soar ...
    • Since I was involved in and received a settlement from a class action suit against CSC for a similar overtime issue, I'll give you some of the math they gave us and what end result I received.

      Employment dates - take the number of working days the employee has been working (in EA's case, we're talking 7 days a week.) In this suit from 2/14/01 to 2/14/06, 260 weeks or 1826 days. This is the maximum that an employee with EA through that full term could achieve.

      Overtime - Since everyone works different overti

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @03:25PM (#15206908)
    At least until I've seen what's behind the curtain. Yes, I do have the math skills, the DX experience and the necessary understanding to create a good engine.

    But I certainly don't want to see my creativity shattered under unbearable timetables. I don't mind doing overtime. Currently, an average work day is like 10-12 hours. 'cause it's fun.

    Being FORCED to work 14 hours and more is by no means any kind of motivation. Actually, I'd probably start sabotaging my own work.
    • Actually, I'd probably start sabotaging my own work. Now we know why EA games tend to suck... Thanks for the insight!
    • Pull a couple of 38 hours shifts (i.e., working non-stop for nearly two days) will give you new meaning of being a zombie in the video game industry. The worst part is that they still expect you to come in at 9am the next morning and still work the weekends. One of the reasons why I quit Atari after six years was because I wanted a normal life with a predictable schedule.
    • The issue I see is that if your in a job you don't like, being it the hours, your boss, the location, or the work then why would you persist? You might as well shout out at the mountain for being between you and your goal. Instead what we end up with is people who rant on break, at lunch, or on message boards, about how bad things are yet they don't take the one step required to correct it, find another job.

      I know the litany of excuses, I have used some myself. There is a comfort level even in the most i
      • There are many reasons why people stick with an unbearable job. Mortgages is one of the most obvious ones.

        Also, getting a new job may be fine, but something you'll also have noticed is that hire and fire works at a LIFO principle: The newest guy is the first to go. When you've spent some time with a company, this offers you some kind of security. Some "padding" of newer guys that go first when the upper brass decides to "cut some slack" (ever noticed that it's never the real slack, i.e. managers, that gets
      • Or they just stay because the've finally realized every employer is pretty much the same (and if you move too many times, you'll find that employers stop calling you back). Sort of a version of price fixing.

  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @04:21PM (#15207350) Homepage Journal
    It's not clear from TFA.. did EA actually lose a case (as in being ruled against in court of law,) or is this an out-of-court settlement?
  • Because he's got a wife who is so supportive and caring and willing to stick with him through tough times and fight the good fight with him. Why, what did you think I was going to say? Awwwwww, nooooo, come on... get your mind out of the gutter. You should be ashamed! Pervert.
  • So did EA change how they operate? Or did they shell out the $ as a "cost of doing business" and are continuing to overwork the poor guys? Are there any EA headcounts here that can vouch for them (either in the negative or positive)?

    and, on a side note, I wonder how this affects (if at all) EA Canada.
  • I am glad to see programmers actually standing up on their hind feet and suing. We have been treated like crap for too long and yet we do nothing about it. Maybe someday we will get up the nerve to strike. Or, even better, form our own companies and refuse to work for abusers like EA.

    Of course, it helps that they were working in California, a state where workers have rights. A lot of studios seem to be moving to Austin and other Texas towns. They are moving here for the same reason Nike has its sweat shops

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.