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EA Employees sue Company [Update]
Some employees of Electronic Arts, including members of the Sims 2 team, have filed a lawsuit against the company. The employees have had to work overtime during crunch-times (rushes before the major deadlines), which meant working 12 hours a day 7 days a week, with occasionally the Saturday evening off. The group of employees claims they didn't get paid for the extra hours they worked, nor did they get extra hours off, or extra vacation days in return. EA's attitude towards this is said to be "If they don't like it, they can work someplace else." The details are revealed by the spouse of an EA worker, in a blog post. "This company is not strapped for cash; their labor practices are inexcusable." The spouse claims EA's actions to make employees work too long - almost 90 hours a week - is "unethical" and "illegal." Another part says the turnover rate in engineering at EA is approximately 50%, which means a lot of people leave the company constantly, and new ones join.

GameSpot further investigated this issue, and brought up that Attorney Robert C. Schubert, partner at San Francisco law firm Schubert & Reed LLP, has "initiated legal proceedings to start a class action lawsuit on behalf of a group of EA employees." EA claims the employees fell under the Californian exemption law, Senate Bill 88, which does not apply to the entertainment industry and only to specialty employees earning at least $90,000 annually. The claim "Jamie Kerschenbaum vs. Electronic Arts, Inc." was filed 29 July of this year. Jamie was part of the Sims 2 design team, although his current employment status is unknown. "EA will not retaliate against employees for exercising legal rights, including by participating in the proposed class action." More about this can be read in the GameSpot newspost or the EA Spouse blog.

[Update 22:20] More posts by former EA employees have been published. See the read more area (or read on below) for the details about those.

Another blog has appeared, by Joe Straitiff. He tells about his experience at Maxis, which is somewhat similar. He was put on the Urbz, and had quite a bit of trouble in that project. He was said he "should be working at least 12 hours a day."
"It was a suprise -- I did what they asked, and was yelled at for it. I was "supposed" to have completed every little thing extra. And, both the HR guy and my supervisor lied that that was what had been discussed at the last meeting. I couldn't believe the bold faced lie, so I capitulated saying that I must've misunderstood and apologized. [...]

"However, that was the "last straw" per my Supervisor and I was terminated over a week later at 5pm on a Tuesday... I was told I could "voluntarily resign" but I turned that down. Why hide what was happening? I don't see how it could possibly look bad for me, in every case I did what was asked and more. It was always just interpreted in the worst possible way. I always thought my explainations went over well, but apparently I was supposed to know everything about the project so that I could know my place in it, and spend my copious free time at work figuring out when all the platforms were being built, watch the "leads" to make sure they get their stuff done (because it's not their fault if it doesn't), etc... Just insane."
Another post by Evan Robinson, ex-employee of EA, is published at Engines of Mischief:
"The Crunch Mode philosophy that ea_spouse describes is a typical case of caring more about worker's butts than their brains. The manager she describes is obsessed with how many hours the worker's butt is in the chair, but doesn't give a good goddamn about the quantity or quality of the work actually getting done during those hours. He's valuing butts, not brains. Bad manager, no tee-time! [...]

"EA was not always this way (though I've been around long enough to see that the potential was always there, right from the beginning). After 20 years of patching up the wounds inflicted on myself and others by this escalating abuse, I'm glad to see that we're having an open conversation about this at last, and am looking forward to seeing where it goes."
You can read the blog about that too.

Several other (gaming) sites have posted about this matter. You can read some user comments at Slashdot or BluesNews, and find some other news posts at GamesIndustry, p2pnet, ZDNet.

A white paper (PDF format) has been published by one of the professors at Carnegie Mellon University. It describes the culture within EA, and "could indirectly explain the previous stories" (as posted by SlashDot). It has two key sentences on the first pages already: "The largest sin at EA is not delivering your game on time" and "people at EA work long hours, in large part because of their great passion for making games."

Thanks to Vivacity and SlashDot for the links to the blogs.
Written at 19:42 on Friday, 12 November 2004 by ChEeTaH.

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Written at 20:51 on Friday, 12 November 2004 by elvendragon

woot! w00t! w007! \/\/007!!

Written at 00:54 on Saturday, 13 November 2004 by Hayley (girlygirl09)
How much are they sueing?

Written at 04:12 on Saturday, 13 November 2004 by Vivacity (Vivacity)
Heres a few other related links from a couple ex-EX employee's:
http://enginesofmischief.com/blogs/ramblings/archives/2004/11/11/643 employee
ex-Maxis Employee

Written at 05:26 on Saturday, 13 November 2004 by TheShadowFox
Probably a suit for quite a bit. How, exactly, would you like to be forced, more or less, into working almost 90 hours a week (12 hours per day, all week long. 84, actually) with no extra time off for the "crunch," nor being paid for your time spent? Then again, supposedly it's a standard part of the industry.. more or less, anyhow.

Written at 10:56 on Wednesday, 17 November 2004 by James Magenta (JamesMagenta)
ChEeTaH I did not post any links to any of the blogs.The credit should go to Vivacity.

Written at 14:31 on Wednesday, 17 November 2004 by ChEeTaH (TSZ Webmaster) (ChEeTaH)
D'Oh, sorry Vivacity, and thanks James. The credit has been fixed now :-)


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