An employee of a game technology studio who alleges that she and other co-workers were wrongfully being denied reimbursement for personal internet expenses for work done at home is asking for preliminary approval of a $100,000 settlement.
According to plaintiff Meghan O’Sullivan’s proposed Los Angeles Superior Court class-action lawsuit against Mythical Games, she and the other impacted employees 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.
O’Sullivan’s attorneys filed court papers on Thursday with Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl asking that she give her consent to the $100,000 accord, which would affect about 120 California residents who are or were employed by Mythical in the state and who worked from home for at least one pay period during from mid-March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to this past Dec. 31.
In a sworn declaration, O’Sullivan says the case resolution is good for her and her colleagues.
“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,” says O’Sullivan, who also is seeking an additional $5,000 for her work as the class representative.
Kuhl is scheduled to hear the motion March 9.
The suit was brought last Aug. 12 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 states. “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 states.
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.
O’Sullivan seeks to represent a class comprised of her and all other California residents who are or were employed by Mythical and who worked from home for at least one pay period at any point from March 13, 2020, to the present, with a few limited exceptions, such as those working in human resources.
Eligible employees are each entitled to at least $50 a month in expenses dating back to March 2020, the suit states.