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Vivendi sued by programmer over employment law breaches

A programmer working for Vivendi Universal Games' Knowledge Adventure division, Neil Aitken, has filed a lawsuit against his employer - claiming that the publisher falsified timesheets to avoid paying overtime to him and his colleagues.

A programmer working for Vivendi Universal Games' Knowledge Adventure division, Neil Aitken, has filed a lawsuit against his employer - claiming that the publisher falsified timesheets to avoid paying overtime to him and his colleagues.

Aitken has been working for the company as a programmer since February 2000, and is paid on the basis of a 40 hour week - but claims that he and his colleagues regularly work more than 12 hours a day, without being paid overtime.

While such a tale is unlikely to raise many eyebrows around an industry where these kind of hours of unpaid labour are expected from many employees, they're of some interest legally in California, where Aitken works and the lawsuit has been filed.

There, Aitken's attorney Allen Graves explained, employees who make less than an equivalent of $44.63 an hour are entitled to be paid for their overtime on a time-and-a-half basis - and it's here that the most damning of Aitken's claims comes in.

He claims that Vivendi Universal Games' management told its staff to falsify their timesheets for weekdays, and in addition, to falsify documents recording weekends worked for the company, in an attempt to avoid having to pay overtime.

According to Graves, VUG employees who were legally entitled to overtime "have since 2000, on a number of occasions, approached the company and asked for overtime," but that "the answer was some form of no, you're not going to get overtime."

Aitken and Graves hope to win his overtime payments for the past four years back from the company, but the suit also aims to establish a class action against Vivendi Universal on behalf of all employees who were entitled to payments.

VU Games' corporate policy is not to comment on any pending lawsuits or court cases, and as such the company has declined to issue any official comment on the case as yet.

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Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.

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