Seven former employees of BioWare, the respected RPG studio known for games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, have filed a lawsuit against the company for what they claim is inadequate severance pay. The studio recently laid off around 50 employees as part of their shift towards becoming a more agile and focused studio. However, the ex-employees argue that the severance offered to them falls short of the compensation they deserve.
The group of former employees, with an average of 14 years of service at BioWare, asserts that Alberta Courts have typically awarded one month of severance pay per year of service, along with full benefits. They contend that the severance package offered by BioWare was considerably less than this amount. Despite attempts to negotiate for better compensation, the company refused to increase the severance amounts, leaving the ex-employees dissatisfied and seeking legal action.
One terminated employee expresses concern about the difficulties many of them will face in finding new employment, particularly during the approaching holiday season. BioWare’s non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) prevent developers from showcasing their work on projects like Dragon Age: Dreadwolf in their portfolios. This limitation, coupled with the recent industry layoffs that have affected companies like Naughty Dog, Epic Games, and Team17, increases the anxieties and uncertainties surrounding job prospects for these individuals.
A Call for Fair Treatment
The ex-employees voice their support for the game they dedicated their efforts to and for their colleagues who continue working on it. However, they struggle to comprehend why BioWare is not providing them with the fair compensation they believe they deserve during this challenging time. These individuals have invested significant time and effort into their work as artists and creators, contributing to their employer’s substantial profits. R. Alex Kennedy, the group’s lawyer, highlights the need for a response to address the mass termination without cause that has occurred.
The parent company of BioWare, EA, had previously announced a corporate restructuring plan that would lead to layoffs affecting 6% of their workforce. This decision appears contradictory considering EA’s claim of operating from a position of strength. As the development continues for Dragon Age: Dreadwolf and the fifth installment of Mass Effect, concerns regarding employee compensation and job security persist.
The legal action taken by seven former BioWare employees sheds light on the issue of inadequate severance pay. With an average tenure of 14 years at the company, these individuals believe they are entitled to more substantial compensation. The challenges of finding new employment, faced not only due to BioWare’s NDAs but also the wider industry layoffs, further highlight the importance of fair treatment and compensation for employees in the gaming industry. As the case unfolds, it remains to be seen how the court will respond to the ex-employees’ plea for adequate severance.