Sensory Sweep Ex-Employees Sue For Back Pay
According to lawsuit documentation first discovered by consumer weblog Kotaku, the Department of Labor has been investigating the studio since October 2008.
It filed an injunction on January 16 against company Fooptube and Dave Rushton, doing business as Sensory Sweep Studio, to prevent the firm from shipping finished titles developed by unpaid workers, and to begin the process of collecting the back pay.
Specifically, filings show the studio owes $2,018,437.30 to 198 employees for unpaid wages, including overtime and straight pay, although further details, including whether any employees were compensated at all, are unclear.
Several of Sensory Sweep's products, both in-progress and recently shipped for various publishers, were named in the filing; in addition to Ubisoft's My English Coach and the DS editions of Midway's TNA! wrestling titles, Paramount's Drama Queens, Atari's Tale of Despereaux and 2K's The Bigs were listed. The filing also includes Bayer Medical's Gluco Boy II, for Nintendo, and the studio's in-house Xbox 360 title Scentient.
A running daily tally, assumedly maintained by the disgruntled workers, currently notes the studio is 113 days behind on pay and also notes that "it has been 347 days since Sensory Sweep stole our 401k money", although no information specific to 401k accounts are mentioned in the filing.
"Sensory Sweep demanded a lot from us," reads the website. "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."
An associated PDF on the website claims: "Some former employees have already received a judgment from the Utah Labor Commission in their favor. However, it appears that Sensory Sweep is simply disregarding these rulings. In the fine management tradition of Sensory Sweep, they're completely ignoring the situation."
[UPDATE: Approached by Gamasutra for comment on the issue, Sensory Sweep's Chris Rushton responded, disputing the website claims and stating that the studio's working with the Department of Labor on a resolution.
"Sensory Sweep has undergone some significant hardships since Brash Entertainment went out of business," Rushton says. "We dispute some of the factual claims listed on-line regarding our business situation."
"We are working out an agreement with the Department of Labor. We are very grateful to our employees who have been working so hard alongside us to get through these troubled times."]