Lawsuit of ex-Nintendo worker demands apology from company president

Mario wears a costume and prepares to protect the rights of his workers.

Image: nintendo

A new labor complaint has been filed with the National Labor Relations Board against Nintendo and recruitment agency Aston Carter. The second complaint this year accuses publisher Mario of interfering with workers’ “concerted activities”, including possible retaliation and coercion. It comes months later dozens of current and former employees complained about abusive working conditions at Nintendo of America. (Update: The worker recently came forward and claims he was fired after asking about NoA’s stance on unions.)

As first reported by Axios, the lawsuit was filed on August 7 against Nintendo and Aston Carter as joint employers. The claims listed include “concerted activities (retaliation, dismissal, discipline)” and “coercive rules”. Although vague, both relate to Article 7 and Article 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act. The first part guarantees the right of workers to unionize or self-organize for “mutual aid and protection”. The second part makes it illegal for companies to “interfere with, restrict or coerce employees” from exercising these rights.

Nintendo and Aston Carter have been accused of labor law violations back in april as well. The public complaint included allegations of coercion, surveillance and retaliation. Four sources familiar with the incident said Kotaku this stemmed directly from a contract worker asking a question about unions in a meeting and then being fired for an apparently borderline violation of their NDA. Nintendo said in a statement at the time that there was no “attempted unionization or related activity” and that the employee was terminated for leaking confidential information “and for no other reason.”

If you’re aware of the allegations against Nintendo or have your own story about working there, my inbox is always open: [email protected] (Signal and Proton on request).

However, it sparked a flurry of testimonials on social media by former Nintendo of America employees, and various reports on the problematic working conditions in the company. Dozens of current and former employees said Kotaku that Nintendo of America was made up overwhelmingly of contract employees who received rough offers and were treated like second-class citizens. In addition to poor pay, months out of work, and worse health care options, these testers, locators, and customer service reps have also been banned from attending many corporate events or even walking around. the corridors of the main headquarters.

Nintendo and Aston Carter did not respond Kotaku or other media reports of these issues, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this latest allegation. When KotakuNintendo of America’s initial report was released in April, Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser issued an internal message to employees saying that the management team was looking into the allegations and that the company had a policy of “zero tolerance” for discrimination, harassment or bullying. However, two current employees said little has changed in the months since.

Asked about the complaints, many of which dated back years, Reggie Fils-Aime said they did not reflect the Nintendo he remembered leaving in 2019. The longtime former president of the North American branch also said in an interview with the Washington Post in May that companies should “adopt” unions if that is what their employees want.

The NLRB’s two complaints against Nintendo and the unprecedented speaking out by employees of the notoriously secretive video game company come as a growing number of developers in the industry try to unionize. And even those who aren’t have in some cases formed groups like A Better Ubisoft to press from the biggest publishers on the reform of their workplaces.

Updated: 8/11/22, 3:17 PM ET: Kotaku obtained a redacted copy of the indictment which offers a bit more detail on the allegations against Nintendo. The company is accused of firing an employee for speaking out about working conditions and banning employees from discussing wages, hours and “other terms and conditions of employment.”

Here is the full text:

8(a)(1) Within the preceding six months, the Employer terminated one or more employees because they engaged in concerted protected activities, including protesting the terms and conditions of employment and in order to discourage employees to engage in protected concerted activities.

8(a)(1) During the preceding six months, the Employer interfered with, restricted and coerced its employees in exercising the rights protected by section 7 of the Act by maintaining work rules which prohibit employees to discuss wages, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment.

The title of the article has also been updated to reflect the exact content of the latest accusations.

Update: 09/29/2022 at 9:20 a.m.: The licensed tester recently came forward in a Axios interview. Mackenzie Clifton claims they were fired a month after asking NoA President Doug Bowser, “What does NoA think about the trend of unionization in QA in the games industry lately?” Nintendo denies this, saying the firing was over the disclosure of “confidential information”. Clifton demands a letter of apology from Bowser as part of the settlement. The trial is still ongoing.