Earlier this year, it was announced that Mass Effect and Dragon Age developer BioWare had laid off 50 employees on the Dragon Age: Dreadwolf team, including former Baldur’s Gate lead writer Lukas Kristjanson, who had worked there for the past 25 years. Almost two months on, several former BioWare employees are now suing for inadequate severance pay.
Former BioWare technical director Jon Renish released a statement via his personal Twitter account earlier today announcing the suit, in which he explains that recent cases of termination without cause have awarded at least one month of severance pay per year of service by Alberta Courts. He goes on to explain that BioWare offered “significantly less” than this amount, and that it refused to increase severance amounts following negotiations with several former employees.
BioWare is now being sued by seven former employees after refusing to accept the offer, having already filed a Statement of Claim with Alberta’s Court of King’s Bench. The suit will request fair severance pay from BioWare, as well as punitive damages for what these employees claim is “unreasonably poor treatment by BioWare.” On top of that, these employees are also supposedly struggling to find more work, as BioWare has NDA’s that prevents employees from putting their work on Dragon Age: Dreadwolf in their portfolios.
“In light of the numnerous recent industry layoffs and the fact that BioWare’s NDAs prevent us from showing any of our recent work on Dragon Age: Dreadwolf in our portfolios, we are very concerned about the difficulty many of us will have finding work as the holiday season approaches,” said a former employee. “While we remain supportive of the game we worked so hard on, and of our colleagues continuing that work, we are struggling to understand why BioWare is shortchanging us in this challenging time.”
What makes this suit a little more upsetting is the general surprise of those that used to work at BioWare. For example, former Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider expressed his disappointment via his personal Twitter account, saying that he “can’t believe I live in a world where BioWare didn’t treat the people it let go with every possible courtesy.”
It’s been an absolutely rotten few weeks for the games industry, with publishers like Epic, Sega, Team 17, Naughty Dog, and more cancelling projects and laying off staff as they attempt to make up lost costs for their ill-thought-out ventures into live service and the Metaverse. Here’s hoping that these former BioWare employees get the severance that they deserve and deliver the industry a much-needed win for the worker.
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