New report fuels contractor labor rights suit against Nintendo of America

A number of current and former employees are alleging poor treatment of part-time employees by Nintendo of America.

Mario racing Luigi in Mario Kart 8
Image via Nintendo

Nintendo of America is facing legal claims filed by a former contractor with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for allegedly violating workers’ rights in regard to unionizing. And despite the company releasing a statement claiming that it was not aware of attempts to unionize, a new report has multiple other former employees stating otherwise. 

In a report by Kotaku, sources claim that the part-time employee who Nintendo said was fired for “the disclosure of confidential information and for no other reason” was actually terminated mid-contract after speaking about unions in a February department business meeting. 

According to those sources, the anonymous employee asked for a general comment in regard to unionization during Q&A section at the end of the meeting. That same employee was then fired shortly after for “violating their NDA in a comment on social media.”

Those same sources don’t think that is the whole story, as they note the social media post that allegedly broke an NDA from Nintendo was “extremely vague” and would normally constitute a warning based on previous disciplinary actions. That leads them to say the contract termination was done in retaliation for those unionization comments. 

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Kotaku received statements from 10 current and former employees that have worked at NoA’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, with the common sentiment being that the company treats contractors like “second class workers.”

Based on accounts from these employees, NoA operates on a two-tiered system for temporary employees that have them cycled out on 11-month contracts via an outside agency, such as the one mentioned in the legal suit, Aston Carter. This allegedly includes a mandatory two-month break between contract gigs with Nintendo that can last longer than that, during which those workers can apply for unemployment but have no access to health benefits. 

QA testers also allegedly make as little as $16 an hour and there are reportedly extremely limited opportunities to reach full-time positions or even receive recognition when working in a contract role. Several of these employees even view this as NoA using an “army of contract workers” in multiple departments without providing benefits, even if some of those contractors are working with full-time responsibilities. 

“They want to control you like you’re full-time, but not treat you like a full-time worker,” former contract NoA product tester Jelena Džamonja told Kotaku

Contract workers said they are expected to perform at the same level as their full-time, “red badge” co-workers, allegedly including working necessary overtime for certain projects, resulting in crunch on several products. Despite this, they claim their use of various Nintendo of America facilities is heavily limited and there are very few benefits outside of “the privilege of working for Nintendo.”

While early termination is supposedly rare, many contractors were allegedly pulled aside or into meetings with their outside staffing firm to be reprimanded for speaking out or not using proper channels. 

Kotaku’s full report includes a number of other reports and details about how contractors are allegedly treated at Nintendo of America. Additionally, several reporters, including Axios’ Stephen Totilo, have reported a number of other employees are continuing to reach out in hopes of sharing their own stories for future reports. 

About the author
Cale Michael

Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.