A few days ago we reported that Telltale Games, famous for their narrative-driven adventures, had laid off almost all its employees. With just a skeleton crew left behind to work on the Minecraft: Story Mode project for Netflix, around 250 employees were let go with no advance warning, no severance package, and health care that only lasts till the end of the month. Now the fired employees are fighting back.
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Telltale Games by Vernie Roberts, one of the workers who lost his job. The suit accuses Telltale of violating the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), as well as the more strict version of the law that exists in California, where Telltale is based.
Under the WARN Act, businesses must give workers advance notice of at least 60 days for mass layoffs. If 50 or more employees are let go in a 30 day period, it’s the duty of the business to inform them well ahead of time. If the suit prevails, Telltale will likely be forced to pay all of their ex-employees back pay and benefits for 60 days as compensation.
Telltale has not yet directly addressed the suit, but co-founder Dan Connors recently told Variety that the layoffs came as the result of failed financing negotiations. Connors claims the company was seeking to acquire more funding, but a deal fell through at the last second, and they had no choice but to engage in mass layoffs.
“The company was working diligently to close a round of financing. Unfortunately, when the last potential financial backer abruptly pulled out, we were left in a position where we had no choice but to stop production. Sadly, everyone was so focused on doing what was required to keep the company going that when the last potential partner backed out, there were no other options.”
— Dan Connors
Whatever the reason for Telltale’s money issues, it seems employees were not made fully aware of the situation. The mass layoffs caught everyone by surprise and left many in financial crisis.