Electronic Arts Inc., the world's largest independent video game producer, announced yesterday that it has agreed to pay $15.6 million to settle an overtime class action brought by its graphic artists. The company also agreed to reclassify its entry-level artists as non-exempt workers eligible for overtime pay. The case had been pending for just over one year in the San Mateo County Superior Court. The employees, who were represented by San Francisco law firm Schubert & Reed LLP, alleged that EA forced them to work long hours, including weekends, without any additional pay beyond their 40 hours per week.
Long hours without pay seems to be a common practice in the video game industry, and this settlement is likely to be the first of many against software firms that have refused to obey state and federal overtime laws. EA, of course, denies any wrongdoing.