Electronic Arts reached a settlement today with the graphic artists who alleged that EA owed them overtime pay for all the work that they were doing for the company.
The lawsuit—in part a byproduct of a now-infamous rant by the spouse of an EA employee—alleged that EA improperly classified some employees as exempt from overtime and owed them for the 60- to 85-hour workweeks that were and are common in the games industry. EA's take on the whole matter was that salaried employees are not hourly employees and are therefore exempt from overtime pay. We'll never know how the courts would have decided, because the settlement precludes a visit before Judge Wapner, so all we can do is speculate. And speculate is something we do well here in blogsville.
Will this settlement embolden downtrodden employees of other large developers and publishers, resulting in copycat lawsuits? We reckon that more than a few games professionals are in heavy crunch mode in the period leading up to the release of next-generation consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.