Vernie Roberts, one among the hundreds of Telltale Games employees laid off by the studio on Friday, filed a class-action lawsuit against the company on behalf of himself and his now-former colleagues.
According to the complaint filed on Monday in the San Francisco federal court, Roberts claims that Telltale's employees were sacked with neither a plausible cause nor any advance written notice. This is in apparent violation of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.
This Act, passed in 1988, specifies that for any business with a 100 or more full-time workers to execute a mass layoff - defined as the termination of 50 or more employees if they constitute at least one-third of its workforce, or the termination of 500 or more of its employees - it must notify them 60 days in advance.
To elevate matters, California's state-level version of this act, legislated in 2003, lowers the company-size threshold to 75 full- or part-time employees, and flat out applies to the termination of 50 or more of them.
According to Roberts, the 275 employees of Telltale are facing unemployment, which includes both the 250 workers reported to be laid off on Friday, as well as the 25 workers who remain under Telltale's employ currently in order to wind down the company's operations. No severance was provided to any of them, and health benefits apply only till the end of September.
Businesses that violate the terms of the WARN act face significant financial penalties, which they can direct towards their terminated employees for each day of violation. This compensation is what the plaintiffs are seeking out via request for a jury trial, the amount of which equals the wages and benefits these workers would receive if their employment persisted for the remainder of the aforementioned 60 days.
Telltale, however, might be able to counter this lawsuit based on the federal WARN act, per GameDaily. This version of the act allows for some exceptions for businesses, offering them some exemptions from providing the 60-day advance notice, including "business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable."
According to Variety, Telltale was reportedly working with Lionsgate to secure a round of financing, but the latter ended up pulling out, forcing the studio to shutdown. Attorney Richard Hoeg, in a comment to GameDaily, said that under these specific circumstances, the studio might be able to fight the case. The California variant of the WARN Act, he said, does not provide these same exemptions, however.