LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A judge Wednesday gave final approval to a $100,000 settlement of a lawsuit alleging employees of a game technology studio were wrongfully being denied reimbursement for personal internet expenses for work done at home.
According to plaintiff Meghan O’Sullivan’s proposed Los Angeles Superior Court class-action lawsuit against Mythical Games, she and the other impacted workers were ordered to work from their residences for more than two years rather than come in to the company’s Sherman Oaks office, where the company develops video games and platforms. O’Sullivan was hired in November 2021 as an executive assistant.
On Wednesday, Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl gave her consent to the $100,000 accord, which affects more than 110 California residents who are or were employed by Mythical Games in the state and who worked from home for at least one pay period from mid-March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to this past Dec. 31.
In a sworn declaration, O’Sullivan said the case resolution was appropriate.
“In my opinion, the settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable and is in the best interest of the class, based on the amount per month to be received by me and other class members,” said O’Sullivan, who received an additional $5,000 for her work as the class representative.
The suit was brought in August 2022 under the state’s Private Attorneys General Act, which authorizes allegedly aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees and the state of for purported Labor Code violations.
“To be clear, Mythical sent home all of their employees, including plaintiff, during the period from around March 13, 2020, to the present, to conduct their work from home, and did so without affirmatively reimbursing them with monthly stipends or otherwise for a reasonable portion of their monthly home internet expenses,” the suit stated.
“To the contrary, Mythical advised that home internet expenses were not reimbursable despite the fact that employees needed to use their home internet to do their jobs.”
According to Mythical Games’ travel and entertainment policy, expenses relating to the internet, cable and wireless services at employees’ homes are typically not reimbursable and are issued on a case-by-case basis, the suit stated
Mythical Games’ chief people officer, Cassandra Kaiser, explained in an email to employees that the company does not provide compensation for internet expenses “given (that) most employees would already have internet as a part of their daily lives and additionally most employees are no longer incurring the costs to commute,” the suit states.
But the suits states that under California law, employers must reimburse a reasonable percentage of employees’ expenses in such cases as O’Sullivan’s, even if their workers have unlimited data plans and have incurred no increase in costs.