Fired Nintendo QA contractor to receive $26k settlement

Technology

Former Nintendo game tester Mackenzie Clifton, who claimed they were fired after asking about unionisation, has agreed to accept a settlement of $25,910 (around £23k) in pay, interest and damages.

This agreement with the US National Labor Relations Board concludes Clifton’s long-running dispute with Nintendo and its contractor agency Aston Carter, through which they were employed to test Nintendo games.

As part of the deal, Nintendo must also display a notice informing employees (in block capital letters) they “WILL NOT” be fired or stopped from discussing unionisation.

“You have the right to talk about a union, and WE WILL NOT stop you from talking about a union,” this notice will read (via Polygon).

“WE WILL NOT fire you because you exercise your right to raise issues and complaints to us on behalf of yourself and other employees, including related to the topic of unionisation. WE WILL NOT fire you because of your union membership or support.”

The above notice must be displayed on the main bulletin board at Nintendo of America’s office in its product testing department for a minimum of 60 days. It must also be emailed to all Quality Assurance (QA) staff.

Clifton was terminated by Aston Carton back in February, and subsequently claimed they had only recently raised the topic of unionisation – something they believed had been the main reason they were fired.

At the time, Nintendo told Eurogamer the dismissal was due to the worker disclosing “confidential information and for no other reason”.

Last month, however, an Axios report revealed the seemingly minor tweet Clifton had supposedly been fired for – as well as the question Clifton had raised in a company Q&A with Nintendo of America boss Doug Bowser.

Clifton had asked what Nintendo thought about the “unionisation trend in QA” – something Aston Carter then followed up on afterwards to tell Clifton they had asked a question which had been a “downer”.

Several media reports this year have noted discontent at Nintendo of America – particularly from its QA testers – who have spoken out on employee rights and worker conditions.

Nintendo of America’s Doug Bowser issued a statement in May saying he found said reports “troubling”, and that the matter was being reviewed. Bowser’s predecessor Reggie Fils-Aimé also commented on the situation, saying: “This isn’t the Nintendo that I left.”

Today, in response to the settlement, Nintendo said it was “thankful” a resolution had been reached so it could “continue to focus on ensuring that our working environment remains welcoming and supportive for all our employees and associates”.

However, Nintendo went on to reference its strict adherance to company secrets – the rule it says Clifton broke, causing them to be fired:

“As part of the public settlement all parties remain obligated not to disclose Nintendo’s confidential business information and trade secrets, which are paramount to our development process and product offerings.”

As a reminder, the tweet Nintendo reportedly fired Clifton for read as follows:

“in today’s build someone somewhere must have deleted every other texture in the game bc everything is now red. Just like, pure red. it’s very silly.”