Worker files lawsuit against Nintendo

A worker has accused Nintendo and staffing agency Aston Carter of violating the National Labor Relations Act, according to a statement from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released Monday. Axios first reported the complaint.

Under national labor law, workers are protected by law in their right to form a trade union and to self-organize. The lawsuit, filed Monday in Washington, names both Nintendo and Aston Carter, a staffing agency Nintendo apparently uses to hire workers in contract positions. The unnamed worker claims that Nintendo and Aston Carter engaged in “concerted activities,” such as retaliation, firing, refusal to hire, or discipline of organizing workers; “coercive acts,” as the supervision of these workers; and “coercive statements”, such as threats or promises of benefits. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 is intended to protect workers from unfair work practices in connection with the organization’s efforts.

The case was brought on Monday. Details included in these documents were not immediately available to the public – only the public documentation. Nintendo has not responded to Polygon’s request for comment.

Nintendo of America is located in Redmond, Washington, and a subsidiary of the Japanese company Nintendo. Nintendo as a whole has 27 subsidiaries and more than 6,500 employees, according to a Corporate Responsibility report published in 2021. Like other video game companies, Nintendo sometimes relies on contract labor for certain development positions.

With this lawsuit, Nintendo of America joins a growing number of large video game companies that have recently been accused of work violations. NLRB is currently in a labor dispute between Activision Blizzard’s leadership and quality assurance (QA) workers at its subsidiary Raven Software. Raven Software QA employees announced their intention to join the union earlier this year; these employees, who call themselves the Game Workers Alliance, are awaiting a procedural decision from the NLRB prior to a formal vote to join the union.

Elsewhere on Activision Blizzard, hundreds of workers went out of work in 2021, according to a Wall Street Journal report detailing the extent of Kotick’s knowledge of employee dishonesty.

The latest NLRB lawsuit comes at a time when video game workers are pushing for union. Last year, Beast Breaker developer Vodeo Games became the first certified gaming association in North America after management voluntarily recognized it. In 2020, contracted game writers for Voltage Entertainment went on strike and won, after 21 days without official union recognition – a first for the video game industry. And in the board game industry, United Paizo Workers and Cards Against Humanity Workers formed United unions in 2021 and 2020, respectively.