Sensory Sweep Studios is facing allegations it hasn't paid nearly 200 employees in more than 100 days. The US Department of Labor has filed an injunction, saying more than $2 million is owed.
According to lawsuit documents, the Department of Labor was notified in late October of the pay issue and sent a wage-hour investigator to Utah to look into the claim. On Jan. 16, Labor filed an injunction filed in U.S. District Court in Utah preventing Sensory Sweep from shipping out finished product associated with the unpaid labor, as well as to set in motion a back-pay action against the company.
The filing says Sensory Sweep owes $2,018,437.30 to 198 employees for unpaid wages, both overtime and straight pay. It doesn't describe what portion is unpaid OT and what is regular hourly wages, but the specific inclusion of the charge "failure to pay the minimum wage" sounds like it means people were working without any compensation at all.
The products subject to the government's request for an injunction were described as:
My English Coach (Ubisoft, for Nintendo)
Gluco Boy II (Bayer Medical Group, for Nintendo)
TNA Impact/Wrestling (Midway, for Nintendo DS)
Drama Queens (Paramount, for Unknown)
Tale of Desperaux (Atari, formerly Brash, for PS2 and Wii)
The Bigs (2K for Nintendo)
Scentient (an in-house game for 360)
Of course, some of these titles have already shipped. The injunction listed them as examples of work the programmers were doing during the unpaid period.
A one-page site put up presents this allegation from Sensory Sweep's workers, "past and present":
"Sensory Sweep demanded a lot from us. We put our lives on hold for them. We worked shifts than ran long into the night, and then into the following morning. We sacrificed relationships for them. Marriages and families suffered because of them. They wanted the impossible from us, and that is exactly what we delivered. In return, they fed us lies and deception."
The site alleges that Sensory Sweep hasn't paid them in 112 days and, further "it has been 346 days since Sensory Sweep stole our 401(k) Money."
The documents do not give any narrative or reasoning from Sensory Sweep for the alleged withholding of pay, nor is anything specifically said about 401(k) funds. An unsigned copy of the injunction sought by the government was among the documents. It is not known if a judge granted the injunction or when that decision will be made.
Kotaku will follow this story and update with Sensory Sweep's comment and developments in the legal proceedings as they become available.
Chao et al. v Fooptube LLC d/b/a Sensory Sweep and Dave Rushton [Federal District Court Filings & Dockets]