Telltale’s troubles continue as a former employee of the studio is suing over the alleged unlawful layoff of around 275 total employees.
The plaintiff, Vernie Roberts, accompanied by several attorneys, is representing both himself and the employees laid off, claiming that Telltale Games is in violation of the US labor law Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 (WARN act). The suit says:
Plaintiff and the class of similarly situated employees he seeks to represent were terminated as part of, or as a result of, the shutdown or mass layoff ordered by the Defendant. As such, the Defendant violated the WARN Act by failing to give the Plaintiff and the class of similarly situated employees he seeks to represent at least 60 days’ advance written notice of termination, as required by the WARN Act. As a consequence, the Plaintiff and other similarly situated employees are entitled under the WARN Act to recover from the Defendant 60 days’wages and ERISA benefits, none of which has been paid.”
The WARN Act also stipulates that a company is required to follow this law if they have 100 or more employees – Telltale had around 300 employed at the studio. Roberts’ lawsuit is demanding “an equal amount to the sum of all of the Aggrieved Employees” which includes unpaid wages, salary, and more. The bottom line is, Telltale would have to pay a lot of money if they lose this lawsuit.
Telltale was seeking additional funding, according to a Variety interview with Telltale co-founder Dan Connors. Once the last funder pulled out, they were forced to cease productions. This might prove a hard case if Telltale can prove they were trying to gain funds. U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration says an exception to the 60-day notice can include: “losings and layoffs that are caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time notice would otherwise have been required”
This federal level lawsuit demands a trial by Jury, and the trial would take place in a United States District Court of California. It may be possible that a state level filing will be forthcoming, and if so that may prove more difficult for Telltale to defeat due to stricter labor laws in California.
Yesterday, Telltale Games released a statement saying that several companies would be willing to work with them in order to complete the final season of their critically-acclaimed series, The Walking Dead. Meanwhile, many other game companies have reached out to hire former employees of the studio. Twitter has blown up with #TelltaleJobs, with multiple companies such as Zenimax Online Studios and Guerilla Games offering positions. Several employees have expressed outrage and confusion towards the company for looking to continue the project after laying off all the people who had worked on it.
We have reached out to Telltale Games for a comment on this lawsuit, but for now stay tuned for more news on Telltale Games.
Telltale has a history of mismanagement, so this lawsuit isn’t too surprising. I think it’s going to be a long battle and a bitter end to Telltale Games. Telltale Games was full of talented and driven individuals, so I hope that employees are given recompense and find jobs that can help them continue creating great games.
What do you think of a former Telltale employee suing the studio? Do you think he has a strong case? Let us know in the comments below!