A coworker walked off the job yesterday...

… and I’m not pitting him. Instead, I pit my employer.

I work for a computer game company. We’ve been working crunch lately- I mean MASSIVE crunch. I’ve not been hit too hard by it… but the programmers, particularly those in key positions, have been getting slammed.

Joe, my friend, and his wife had a baby earlier this year. Joe planned a trip out-of-state to visit family over July 4th. Two days before that holiday, his boss told him, “Actually, we need you too much. We’re going to have to cancel your vacation.” Joe, being a devoted employee, let his wife and son go on vacation while he stayed in town.

Lately, though, it’s gotten MUCH worse. I found out that Joe has been working every day for the last two months… over twelve hours each day. The office is shutting down this next week for the holidays… but several of the programmers are being denied the chance to spend time with their families, and Joe was one of them. Did I mention that Joe, like all the other employees, doesn’t get paid overtime? Supposedly we get “comp time”, but I’ve never seen anyone get more than a day or so, and that after working weeks on end.

So, two days ago, Joe cleaned out his office. Nobody’s seen him since. We’re just a few weeks from finishing the project, and losing Joe is going to really hurt the project- and I don’t blame him at all.

I just can’t believe that his boss was surprised by this. Hell, I would’ve been looking for new work after the July 4th incident. I’ve always believed that overtime is an indication that management has already failed- not that the employees don’t work fast enough.

So blow me, Joe’s bosses. Blow me, employer. We shouldn’t have to miss our families in order to increase your stock. We shouldn’t have to miss our kids growing up so you can enjoy a bigger bonus.

I’m sorry if it’s going to put extra work on you, but under the circumstances, I really can’t blame Joe. Such a same the management doesn’t realize that you cannot work your employees like dogs and expect high morale and good efficiency.

EA, huh?

He’d have to consult a lawyer, because the rules differ from place to place (along with the hiring agreement), but since he will probably be denied unemployment compensation, he should probably sue (either in court or with the appropriate government agency) for compensation for the hours for which he was not paid. (The additional benefit, if he goes through the government, is that all the rest of the programmers will probably get compensation when the books are reviewed).

Compensatory time is supposed to be hour-for-hour and while no one really expects to get every hour back that they worked, a situation in which massive overtime is “rewarded” with an occasional extended coffee break is generally frowned upon by the government agencies and the courts.

As I opened, of course, he’ll need a lawyer to check the specifics of your location.

I had a jaggoff boss like that, once. Everything was a ufkcin’ crisis, every day he was in panic mode, and any time I scheduled vacation I’d get pulled back. Of course, since he’d refuse to do anything right the first time, or to address an obvious problem before it expanded into a poodle screw, he created all these crises for himself (and the rest of us). I finally got laid off from that job on the third go-around of RIFs, and never looked back. That company crashed and burned 18 months later.

In the job after that one, the boss’s boss did the same thing. There, I refeused to participate. End of the day, but you need to have a 7pm “Tiger Team Meeting”? See you in the morning–I hope the world hasn’t collapsed overnight. Oh look…the sun still came up this morning. Yah-hoo.

The current company (a major aerospace and defense contractor) at least offers some kind of overtime, and only requires absurdly inflated work weeks once or twice a year. It still pisses me off, but on the other hand, it lets me afford to live comfortably in Southern California, and I get to travel regularly to such beautiful places as Chandler, AZ, Salt Lake City, UT, and Cheyenne, WY.

Er, what?

Well, anyway, it’s better than most jobs I’ve held. I just wish I could wedge some quantum mechanics or jazz appreciation into the job description somehow.


If Joe is at fault for anything, it would be letting it get that bad. If you are really valuable to a company, they will bend over backwards to keep you. By being jerked around, it appears he was more of the bosses bitch than anything else. If you skip a vacation with your family to work, you either have misplaced loyalty or you have never learned to say no. Family always comes before work. Your company will fire you in a second if they can earn another dollar so why the fuck would you put their concerns ahead of your family?

Good for Joe. Being a programmer myself, I would have walked off after the July thing, too. I’ve heard so many horror stories about gaming development; there was a post on Slashdot not long ago by a programmer’s spouse decrying the work schedules during crunch times. Electronic Arts, if I’m not mistaken.

The sad thing is, Joe’s departure won’t teach management anything, they’ll just keep heading down the same ridiculous path. Makes me realize why unions can be a good thing…

Speaking of Electronic Arts…

No, seriously. The programmers there are suing and I think they won. Maybe you should give one of them a shout. This isn’t healthy for you, and it’s not good coding, either.

He might not need unemployment; he might’ve gotten another job, and only walked when he knew he had something else going. I didn’t see any indication either way in the OP.

Of course, he should still sue for compensation, regardless if he’s currently being paid elsewhere. He’s already put in days of his life that he can’t get back, and should be duly compensated regardless.

That kind of situation is bad for everyone and pushing people until they act unreasonably is just awful, but I know how Joe feels (and I don’t blame him at all).

I once had a job where I really needed the bosses help at times, but when I approached him, he would say stuff like “Make it (the problem) go away.” I took that to mean I had the freedom to solve the problem myself, but then would get reamed for handling it in a fashion that was not to his liking. I got so frustrated with how this played out again and again that I took my vacation time to job hunt, even thought I realled like the work.

Returning from vacation, I found my desk had been completely rifled and all my materials ‘redistributed’. I guess they thought my ‘vacation’ was code for ‘quit’…so I did.

That really sucks. I hope a new and much better job comes his way.

I’m finding that more and more employers treat their workers like machines and have very little regard for their health and personal time. One of my friends in from Croatia and she said that when she came here she was flabbergasted at how hard people are made to work here. She said that in many parts of Europe a lot of jobs give up to 40 vacation days a year, the workday ends at 3 or 4 pm, and coffee breaks can be up to an hour instead of just 10 or 15 minutes. people are, of course, better rested, happier, and more efficient. I’m really hoping North American employers will begin to adopt the same attitude.

:checks ass - sees no monkeys flying out of same:

We’ll all be dead and buried before you see that behavior from NA employers. The recent lawsuit against Wal-mart for not giving legally required lunch breaks should be an indication of that.

I quit my last job working with a non-profit feral cat rescue group because I had worked 18 months without a day off. I loved my work. When I came in to clean kennels on Thanksgiving Day and found that I had been written up for not trapping a cat before she had kittens, I was really upset. 10 days later, when my boss started reaming me about not getting enough trapping done, I asked him what he wanted me to stop doing to devote more time to trapping. I was cleaning 35 kennels at his house twice daily, 15 kennels at his girlfriend’s house twice daily, transporting cats to the vet and supervising adoptions. Plus feeding a feral colony and cleaning transition cages there. Plus trapping. He told me maybe I needed to get up earlier in the morning.

I told him to kiss my ass. Only job I’ve ever quit without notice in my life.

and where would you rather live: North America, or Croatia?

This sort of “work ethic” (and I use the term very loosely) sadly seems to have become pervasive in the game industry.

I’ve friends who have worked for EA, Mythic, Blizzard…they’re all like this now. My friend who worked on WoW before release worked 90+ hours a week for several months, and like your friend, had a brand new baby in the household as well. They then laid him (as well as several of his fellow programmers) off shortly after release.

They work programmers until they break to get a game out, and then wonder why their games are shipping with so damn many game-breaking bugs. Of course by then, they’ve laid half of a project’s programmers off, so there’s rarely enough people left to FIX the fucking bugs in any sort of timely manner, because the programmers that are left have been shifted to another project.

I would advise Croatia. It’s an extremely beautiful country. The Adriatic coast and its islands is just gorgeous, the mediterranean climate really nice, its historical towns like Split and Dubrovnik magnificent. You sure would have a lot to do during your long vacation time. That’s a no-brainer.

It also enjoys a significant economical growth and will soon join the EU.

While I’m all for illegally-overworked employees suing the Evil Alliance, it’s my understanding that they ended up in a worse situation, anyway.

It was actually artists who sued- unlike programmers, artists are not supposed to be “Exempt”… in California. They won… and then EA turned around and made all artists contractors. Now artists, at least, get paid for every hour they work, and overtime… but they’ve got no job security or benefits. And what’s more, EA is going to be moving their LA office to Florida- where the laws, presumably, allow EA to classify artists as “Exempt”.

Fargin’ Bastidges.

My initial response to this was Well, hey now until I read past the second parenthesis.

I was working as a security guard during the time of the NEP in Canada when many people their jobs in the oil industry. I know this is totally anecdotal, but from my vantage at the front desk I saw all the people who were the ones who worked late and came in early. I also noted that when the cuts came they invariably were the ones who were let go first.

My analysis of the situation went thusly (and I’m not saying it is correct):
Either they were idiots who couldn’t get a reasonable amount of work done during a regular day
Or, they were so overburdened with work that they needed to spend the extra hours and weren’t willing to stand up to the boss to get extra help as needed.

Well, they couldn’t all be idiots*, so I assumed that they weren’t willing to stand up to their bosses. But why would this have got them laid off at the first opportunity? Maybe it could be that their bosses don’t respect them enough to treat them properly in the first place otherwise why would they allow them to work like slaves? So, when it came to firing people, if I was the boss I am not going to fire the people I respect. At least if I had the choice over who is to be fired.

From then on I’ve never worked a minute of overtime without getting compensated for it in one way or another. The current company I work for in the head office it is full of people who work ridiculous hours for no overtime. The climate there is not one I’d wish to work in. The people who won’t work such hours (which tend to be those types of people you don’t want to leave) have moved on and the ones who are left are not the top tier in the industry.

Now I’m working right now on Christmas eve, but that is the way my shift is. I get Christmas off next year. The nature of this job is such that I have to work blocks of time. I get the equivalent amount of time off. I also get paid quite nicely to do this (although more is always better). I gross at least 50% more than the guys in head office to do what I do and yet even though I travel half way around the world, and get six months off a year, and make a whole shit load of money of which I pay minimal taxes on, do you think that when the oportunity arises to do the same thing we actually get any takers on this? Nope, not a one. We always have to hire outside the company and we always get better people because of it.

The reason for the above paragraph was to I just got an email from a guy at head office on Christmas eve asking about a problem that is in no way urgent. “Buddy, take that blackberry out of your ass and go spend some time with your family. And if you don’t have a family it is probably because you’ve got that damn blackberry up your ass!”.

My respect for people who work unpaid overtime, or unwilling overtime, is minimal. It seems Joe found out that he didn’t have to take the shit, or just couldn’t take it. You work to live, not live to work. If you stand up for your rights then it is quite likely that you will get them. It is guaranteed that if you don’t you won’t.

Now that I’m a boss, I actually have guys who want to work overtime (when we do work overtime we get paid very, very well for it). I tell them that I prefer to delay the work over having them exhausted from working and having a lousy homelife because they are never there. Oddly enough, having healthy happy energetic people seems to get the work done quite nicely.

*I was more optimistic in those days, so gave them the benefit of the doubt. Now after working in the oil industry in the IT department for many years I know better and, yes, they could well have all been idiots!

Whoa, what’s this about Wal-Mart? They got sued AGAIN? Got a link?