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Former BioWare employees sue for better severance after layoffs

Seven plaintiffs are requesting fair pay, plus damages for "unreasonably poor treatment"

A group of former BioWare employees are suing the studio for better severance pay after they were laid off in August.

Two months ago, the Dragon Age and Mass Effect developer dismissed 50 staff members due to "the studio's changing needs."

Now seven of those affected have filed a Statement of Claim with Alberta's Court of King's Bench, claiming BioWare's severance offer was too low.

According Worobec Law, which is representing the group, most cases of termination without cause in Alberta award those affected with at least one month of severance pay for each year they worked at the company, plus the "full value of all benefits included."

The ex-BioWare group, which has an average of 14 years at BioWare for each member, claim there were offered "significantly less than this amount." Some of them tried to negotiate with BioWare but the studio reportedly refused to increase its severance amounts.

The former staff are now requesting fair severance pay, as well as punitive damages for "unreasonable poor treatment" by BioWare.

In a statement, one of the seven said: "In light of the numerous recent industry layoffs and the fact that BioWare’s NDAs prevent us from showing any of our recent work on Dragon Age: Dreadwolf in our portfolios, we are very concerned about the difficulty many of us will have finding work as the holiday season approaches.

"While we remain supportive of the game we worked so hard on, and of our colleagues continuing that work, we are struggling to understand why BioWare is shortchanging us in this challenging time."

The group's legal counsel, R. Alex Kennedy, suggests that BioWare may have included illegal provisions in its contracts.

"There are many situations where employers include termination provisions that are not enforced by the Courts," he said, "and I think we see that in this case too. BioWare attempted to reduce its obligation to these employees well below what the courts typically award, including by eliminating benefits from its termination pay – that appears to be contrary to the Employment Standards Code.

"These people are artists and creators who have worked very hard and for a very long time in a difficult industry, producing big profits for their employer. Their termination without cause en masse like this calls for a response. Employers here can terminate anyone at any time without cause, but with that right comes a responsibility to the people they put in that situation."

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James Batchelor avatar
James Batchelor: James is Editor-in-Chief at, and has been a B2B journalist since 2006. He is author of The Best Non-Violent Video Games
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