It would seem that all major gaming giants may have taken pages from the same book when it comes to the treatment of their developers and quality assurance testers, among other staff. Last year’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard reminded the gaming community that the jobs of gaming developers aren’t always as dreamy as they may sound — it’s filled with crunch time and burnouts. So, naturally, gaming giants aren’t really pleased when they find out that unionization is taking place — Nintendo is allegedly the most recent among them.
Nintendo is the latest video game developer to be hit with allegations of mistreating their employees. As reported by Polygon, the gaming giant, and its human resources partner, Aston Carter, fired several employees after they’d engaged in protected organizing activities. This might come as a surprise, considering that Nintendo did a really good job of avoiding any major controversies that are currently plaguing other gaming giants. However, that is no longer the case, as the company’s subsidiary, Nintendo of America, faces allegations of union-busting.
An unnamed employee filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging that Nintendo of America engaged in coercive actions to discourage workers from unionizing. The information about the complaint is still limited, but it apparently includes illegal surveillance, creating the impression of illegal surveillance, discharging employees that engaged in protected activities, and/or have joined or supported labor organizations.
The alleged actions listed in the complaint, at least those that we know of, are banned in the United States, as they prevent — or at the very minimum infringe upon — the worker’s rights to organize and engage in collective bargaining against the company. As a Japanese company, Nintendo isn’t subject to US labor laws. However, its subsidiary, Nintendo of America, is — so NLRB has the ability to take legal action against Nintendo. You can see a tweet about the controversy below.
Those actions include cease and desist orders, various injunctions, as well as legal requests to reverse any alleged illegal termination that has violated the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 and give back pay. Now, refusing to comply with NLRB’s ruling and requests allows the Board to take legal action against company individuals and issue civil and criminal penalties. Of course, Nintendo pushed back against the accusations of union-busting, denying the allegations and stating that it wasn’t aware of unionization efforts by its employees.
According to Nintendo’s statement, the disgruntled contractor, the one who filed the complaint, was terminated due to disclosing confidential company information. However, as previously stated, the information regarding the complaint is still very limited, and we’re likely to find out more as the time progresses — just look at the amount of dirty laundry the initial lawsuit against Activision Blizzard unearthed.
However, the most interesting part might be the hypocrisy if the aforementioned complaint holds ground. Last year, in light of the discovery of Activision Blizzard’s malpractices and mistreatment of its employees, Nintendo’s president, Doug Bowser, spoke against Activision Blizzard and the mistreatment of workers within the gaming industry. So, it would appear that Activision Blizzard, though still the largest controversy-generator of the entire industry, may be just a cog in the machinery of malpractice and mistreatment of those upon whom the industry relies— and Nintendo might be a cog too.