Telltale Games Under Fire As Ex-Employees File Class Action Lawsuit
Telltale continues to dig itself into a deeper hole within the industry with Monday’s news that they are looking for investors to finish The Walking Dead: Final Season series. The second episode, Suffer The Children, was released today as planned however the studio has asked all digital gaming stores to pull the title off its catalog to prevent further purchases. The game was only available as a season pass, however with its future up in the air it was only right to pull the title.
What the studio isn’t making right however is its treatment of their former employees who were unceremoniously dismissed just last week. Upon fevered demand from fans that Clementine’s story be finished it appears that Telltale is looking for options to meet said demand;
— Telltale Games (@telltalegames) September 24, 2018
On one hand you may be high fiving your fellow gamer for pressuring the defunct studio to complete at least one hot title off their slate, however God of War Director Cory Barlog went for the jugular;
I would hope this means that you will first pay your entire team their severance, and then proceed to finish the final episodes. I would be fine waiting however long it took to ensure we first treated those who worked so hard with the humanity and respect they deserve.??
— Cory Barlog ? ???? Should be writing! (@corybarlog) September 25, 2018
This treatment isn’t anything new. Multiple reports of industry folks getting burnt out while working at Telltale coupled along with their first round of layoffs last Fall set off alarms of abuse going on at the company. One could understand their contracted commitment to Netflix to finish the Minecraft: Story Mode game, but to lay off The Walking Dead creative team with no severance and vow to finish the game essentially without them is downright sketchy. Apparently, ex-employees felt the same way as they have filed a class action suit against Telltale.
The reason for the lawsuit has been classified as “without cause”, and without providing them with “advance written notice as required by the WARN Act.”. Now while California is an “at will” state there are different rules when it comes to lay offs within a company. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which became law in 1988, stipulates that most businesses with at least 100 full-time workers must notify employees 60 days in advance of any plant closings or mass layoffs.
Telltale does have a counter argument citing the Federal version of the WARN Act which includes the exemption; “business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable.”. Apparently, Telltale was working on securing solid financial backing (speculation points to Lionsgate), but that the backer pulled out at the last minute. California doesn’t carry such an exemption so Telltale might be grasping for straws.
If The Walking Dead: Final Season does manage to find an investor to complete the saga it’s not going to feel as good as it should.
Clementine will always be like a daughter to the teams of 100’s of people that ‘raised’ her since 2012. But those people have REAL kids. Real mouths to feed, and they need to be fed FIRST before the fans. #Telltale250 https://t.co/ANcvqZEehJ
— Job J Stauffer (@jobjstauffer) September 25, 2018
How about first paying the former employees you treated terribly and then fired without severance? Slapping together an ending doesn’t matter as much as these people’s livelihoods. Do the right thing. Everyone will remember this. #TellTaleJobs
— Maddy #WeBelieve?? (@clearlymadd) September 25, 2018
I was going to buy the game, but considering that the employees you layed off (the ones who made this game especially) aren’t getting severance pay, I’m not sure.
— Jinx (@doodlejiinx) September 25, 2018
I’ve been a fan of your games for years. I don’t want more episodes, I want you to give your employees severance pay.
— OrangeGoth ??? (@ThatAuntZelda) September 25, 2018