Telltale Games Lawsuit: Ex-Employee Files Class-Action for Violation of WARN Act

It’s been a bad week for Telltale Games. On Friday the studio behind The Walking Dead and Batman: The Enemy Within announced that it had laid off the majority of its staff and had cancelled almost all its games in development. It came as a big surprise to the entire industry, and not more so to Telltale’s 275 ex-employees, who were sacked without warning and with no severance pay. Now, however, these ex-employees have opened a class-action lawsuit against the company. The Telltale lawsuit says that the publisher may have broken labor laws by firing its staff without sufficient notice.

As detailed by Polygon, former staff member Vernie Roberts Jr., who previously was an Information Technology Specialist at Telltale, filed a class-action lawsuit on Monday in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California, San Fransisco Division on behalf of himself and his fellow workers. Telltale itself is based in the San Francisco suburb of San Rafael, California.

The full text of Robert’s allegation and statement as to the nature of the class-action suit is:

“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.”

He is referring to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988, which says that companies with at least 100 full-time employees must notify them 60 days before any mass layoffs. A “mass layoff” in this case meaning 50 or more workers within a 30-day period, if the total comprises at least one-third of the company’s workforce. California’s version of the WARN Act is apparently even more strict, as the company total is lowered to 75 full- or part-time employees, and applies to any layoffs at least 50 people.

If Telltale sacked 275 out of around 300 employees without the required 60 days’ notice or severance pay, as the lawsuit suggests, then it would seem to have broken the WARN Act. The lawsuit requests a jury trial, with compensation requested being the following:

“An amount equal to the sum of all of the Aggrieved Employees’: unpaid wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, accrued holiday pay, accrued vacation pay, pension and 401 (k) contributions and other ERISA benefits, for sixty (60) days following the member employee’s termination, that would have been covered and paid under the then applicable employee benefit plans had that coverage continued for that period, all determined in accordance with the WARN Act, 29 U.S.C. §2104(a)(1)(A) and its California counterpart, California Labor Code §§ 1400 et seq.”

We’ve reached out to Telltale Games for an official statement concerning the suit.

What do you think about this lawsuit and everything going on around Telltale? Let us know!