# I think I may be upset

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I am trying to figure out if I should file a complaint along with a bunch of the other former employees of Sensory Sweep or not. I have been trying to hold out hope that things haven't been as bad as it looks. After working alternating 60 hour, and 80 hour weeks for 2 months without getting paid, I fell apart emotionally. It was a relief when I was laid off in November. They told me I could reapply when they got back on their feet in January (I am quite sure that I'm not.) So it has been 2 months since and I still haven't gotten paid, and so I decided to check up on what was happening. I checked the place recently, and 75% of the people have quit or been laid off. Turns out I didn't have it nearly as bad as a bunch of my coworkers, many of whom have families to care for. I Then found out that they are being investigated by the Labor Department for unpaid wages, and that there were rumors of embezzlement. Now there are news stories about it such as this and this And then I found this site run by some former employees. Uggh, what a mess. Meanwhile I am still looking for another job, and thinking of using my saved money for Graduate School.

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Yes. You should get paid for the work you did. You're not a slave are you?

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Quote:
 Original post by LessBreadYes. You should get paid for the work you did. You're not a slave are you?

No, I'm not. That's why I am going to take action. I didn't care much if I was going to paid a bit late, but this is much more than that.

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I understand. You probably didn't want to make waves, but it seems to me that only you can stand up for yourself now and given that the federal government has gotten involved, you need to look out for yourself too. A new job and/or grad school sounds like a good place to begin as you probably won't see the money you're owed for quite a while given the pending legalities.

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I think it's complete bullshit, and you're not alone. But I'm with LessBread, you're definitely not going to be seeing any money for a while; at least the government stepped in and is aware of the situation. Now wouldn't be a bad time to go back to school provided you have the savings for it.

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You think you are upset? I'd be frickin' livid. The PDF on the website you linked to has a lot of great information. I'd definitely recommend taking action.

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 Original post by ZipsterI think it's complete bullshit, and you're not alone. But I'm with LessBread, you're definitely not going to be seeing any money for a while; at least the government stepped in and is aware of the situation. Now wouldn't be a bad time to go back to school provided you have the savings for it.
As in Stargate Worlds people? That seems odd.

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Oh wow. I didn't know that about Stargate Worlds.

I hope they actually do release the game...

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Don't take this the wrong way, I don't mean to be attacking you Platinum314, but how is it that stuff like this happens?

You're about the 4th person in the past 2 weeks I've read about or talked too who recently quit/was layed off from a job that didn't pay for over a month.

Why do people stick with a company like this? I personally would have quit at the latest by the time the third or fourth paycheck didn't arrive.

(Then again, I looked at their career opportunities, and the description of the company environment sounded eerily like the one I work for, and knowing the people who work here, it wouldn't surprise me that there were a lot of people who gave their lives to the company while receiving no pay [although we do get paid, but the mentality of the people, I could see them accepting no pay]).

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I don't understand either. If a paycheck were missed I would wonder what was up. If nobody was responsive in getting it fixed than I'm gone and filing a lawsuit/claim.

People don't 'not get paid'.. ever. If you don't get your first missed check within a day or so and lots of apologies than you aren't getting any money if you stay.

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Quote:
 Original post by NytegardDon't take this the wrong way, I don't mean to be attacking you Platinum314, but how is it that stuff like this happens?You're about the 4th person in the past 2 weeks I've read about or talked too who recently quit/was layed off from a job that didn't pay for over a month.Why do people stick with a company like this? I personally would have quit at the latest by the time the third or fourth paycheck didn't arrive.(Then again, I looked at their career opportunities, and the description of the company environment sounded eerily like the one I work for, and knowing the people who work here, it wouldn't surprise me that there were a lot of people who gave their lives to the company while receiving no pay [although we do get paid, but the mentality of the people, I could see them accepting no pay]).

biweekly paychecks at 4 missed == 2 months == total time the OP missed paychecks.

Two months is like the far end extreme for not getting paid, I'd honestly be hounding people a week after the first was missed and the second was due. When freelancing if someone takes over a month I'm on their ass every two days and refuse more work until payment. This is not unreasonable in the same way getting evicted for not paying your rent is not unreasonable. You starve and die if you have no money in this world, it is not unreasonable to demand payment upon services rendered.

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Wow, that is 100% criminal. Someone is going to jail for that. I'd be making bets that your former company is going to file for bankruptcy.

My guess is that whoever was doing the finances didn't have enough money to pay the staff members. The coffers probably went dry, so they raided the 401k fund to keep paying people (ponsi scheme-ish). Then that ran out, so they probably had to stop paying people and make promises that they'd get paid, and make the promises stretch as long as possible before things got really ugly.

Supposing my theory is right, then the big question is why? I'm guessing that the motivation wasn't initially criminal intent, but they wanted to see game/project finished no matter what and the management was willing to fight to the last man. The correct decision would have been to have the project manager keeping tabs on project progress and budget, and know far in advance that the project schedule would over-run the project budget, grow some balls and either trim requirements, ask for more money from the sponsor, lay some people off, inform the staff of the situation, etc.

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I also worked at Sensory Sweep until the end of November, at which point they were about 2 paychecks behind, and about to miss a third payroll (we were paid twice per month).

As far as why people stay, what can I say? I'm positive that each and every employee of Sensory Sweep spent every spare moment they had looking for another job. The problem is, on top of the fact that Utah has only a handful of game studios, there's a recession on. The jobs just aren't there.

So with that said, it's very tempting to believe management when they say that the problem will be fixed soon. This actually began back in June or July or so. At first, paychecks came a couple days late. Then we'd get one or two paychecks on time. Then, the next few would be a couple days late again. Then, the next few were a week late. Then the next one was 10 days. Then, the next one was more than a pay period late. By around the end of November, they were two pay periods behind, then three, then four.

In November, we were told they'd be almost caught up by Christmas. Yet, only a handful of employees received their October 20th paycheck before Christmas, and no one received paychecks for Nov 5, Nov 20, Dec 5, or Dec 20th. Just before Christmas, everyone was told that they'd be caught up by mid-January. Now that January is almost over, the official line is that everyone will be caught up by mid-February. Keep in mind that no one there, as far as I'm aware, has received any money at all in well over a month.

We were one of the companies that was impacted when Brash went out of business. We developed The Tale of Despereaux for Brash, but because Brash was having trouble, management allowed them to fall several months behind on milestone payments. Right before Brash filed for bankruptcy, they brokered a deal with Atari whereby they gave Atari a finished build of the game we made, collected money from Atari, and then declared bankruptcy without paying us. If management can be believed, they owed us over $2 million which, incidentally, is how much Sensory Sweep now owes their employees. I am not blaming Brash for this at all, but there was a period of time in October and November when we were constantly told that we were mere days away from being paid by Brash. We were also told about all of these other projects we were getting, including one that had been greenlit that we were waiting on our first payment from, which was supposed to be over$1 million. So, this is the information that we were getting from management, and it really made it sound like we could catch up. Apparently, though, all of those projects were much less of a sure thing than management let on. They lied, plain and simple.

I got out of there in late November, but it remains to be seen whether that was a smart move or not. I'm still unemployed. I've burned through my savings, I've borrowed from relatives, and things are getting pretty desperate. The people who are still at Sensory Sweep are supposedly still getting health insurance, so that may be one reason why they're staying. I know one guy who works there whose son has type 1 diabetes, and so quitting and letting his health coverage lapse is really just not an option.

Edit: BTW, Platinum, I'm not sure who you are, but you should definitely file a wage claim with the Utah Labor Commission. Other than that, I think you're all set as far as the US Department of Labor is concerned. The US DoL interviewed about 15 of us (myself included), and after that, they went in and seized SSS's payroll records, and so now they have everybody accounted for. It probably couldn't hurt to contact them, but really as far as this DoL lawsuit is concerned I think you are covered.

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Quote:
Original post by Sirisian
Quote:
 Original post by ZipsterI think it's complete bullshit, and you're not alone. But I'm with LessBread, you're definitely not going to be seeing any money for a while; at least the government stepped in and is aware of the situation. Now wouldn't be a bad time to go back to school provided you have the savings for it.
As in Stargate Worlds people? That seems odd.

Yep, they haven't been paid in almost four months. I was completely shocked when I first heard about it as well, since as far as I knew Cheyenne Mountain was well-funded. But people haven't been paid and they're starting to jump ship, which is unfortunate considering that I love the Stargate universe and probably would have enjoyed an MMO.

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My personal record is about 5 months without being paid. It's quite easy to miss a months payment if your payment comes monthly. The problem is that once you stay beyond that month you become committed since you now have a financial stake in the company. I ended up being paid along with a huge bonus so in the end it worked out extremely well for me but it was definitely a stupid risk to take.

Getting fired with paychecks unpaid would make me extremely nervous since the company could be going bankrupt and that means you'll have to get in line with all the creditors and so on and probably be the last in line to get paid. Not sure what the priorities are like for the bankrupcy manager in the US?

Quote:
 Yep, they haven't been paid in almost four months

Says 2.5 months on that website? I guess some could be worse off than others though.

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 Don't take this the wrong way, I don't mean to be attacking you Platinum314, but how is it that stuff like this happens?

Yea, did they just stop cutting pay, or were you never paid. I mean if you were getting paid then cut, its a way different story. I did just hear something about a kid from my school working an internship(or job) and not getting paid. They came to our school at a career day and apparently screwed some people.

Sorry to hear. I'm pissed that its still open.

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Quote:
 Original post by CDPropAs far as why people stay, what can I say? I'm positive that each and every employee of Sensory Sweep spent every spare moment they had looking for another job. The problem is, on top of the fact that Utah has only a handful of game studios, there's a recession on. The jobs just aren't there.

That much I get, but what do you do when you're not getting paid? Let your credit rating take a dive? Eat at your savings? If the latter case, programmers must be much better at saving money than I expected. I'd be completely screwed if I went that long without being paid, but my business is commercial driving and no money == no gas == no business.

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 Original post by Platinum314Meanwhile I am still looking for another job, and thinking of using my saved money for Graduate School.

Don't worry, you gonna find another better job, you'll see.

Just a piece of advice: If your employers do not pay you in time, quit immediately. If they don't have money to run their company it's not your problem.

Allowing employers not to pay you in time is like giving them a loan.

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1)If they are officially being investigated you need to check what you need to do, rather than assuming the government will send you a check.

2)It's quite common in startups for people to voluntarily take reduced/no pay if they are really invested/committed/passionate about the company/product, believing they will end up better off in the end. Also, even in larger companies, employees are sometimes given a choice between being laid off and taking a pay cut in times of real difficulty... in a recession many people are prepared to do this.
Of course that's not the same as simply not getting paid, which is literally criminal.

Best of luck, keep us posted?

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Quote:
 Original post by CDPropAs far as why people stay, what can I say? I'm positive that each and every employee of Sensory Sweep spent every spare moment they had looking for another job. The problem is, on top of the fact that Utah has only a handful of game studios, there's a recession on. The jobs just aren't there.

This imho is just a bad approach to things. Especially if there's a recession, you have to be willing to comprimise what job you take. Only looking in Utah for a game company extremely limits what you can do. Why not try looking outside of Utah, or looking in a field that isn't gaming? Sure, it isn't entirely what you want to do, but you can get paid. And it's much easier finding a new job when you have a job than when you don't. (Plus, in terms of salary, without a job gives you a severe disadvantage when it comes to salaries, benefits, etc.)

Anyway, sorry to hear that this happened to you two, and best of luck finding a new job.

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Why would you continue working for them when you weren't getting payed? I don't understand. If it were an internship, then, yes, working for free to get experience makes sense but if it is a full time job then why didn't you just quit?

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Quote:
 Original post by francoispressWhy would you continue working for them when you weren't getting payed? I don't understand. If it were an internship, then, yes, working for free to get experience makes sense but if it is a full time job then why didn't you just quit?
What does quitting get you aside from a job gap on your resume?

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Quote:
Original post by Extrarius
Quote:
 Original post by francoispressWhy would you continue working for them when you weren't getting payed? I don't understand. If it were an internship, then, yes, working for free to get experience makes sense but if it is a full time job then why didn't you just quit?
What does quitting get you aside from a job gap on your resume?

Time to find a real paying job.

Working for free you might as well at least be doing your own projects. If you're working at a company the reason you do it is for money. By definition you "work" at a "job" to get "paid". You may love making games, but you can work on games without working for a specific entity and so love for the industry isn't enough of a reason to be a slave.

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Quote:
Original post by Extrarius
Quote:
 Original post by francoispressWhy would you continue working for them when you weren't getting payed? I don't understand. If it were an internship, then, yes, working for free to get experience makes sense but if it is a full time job then why didn't you just quit?
What does quitting get you aside from a job gap on your resume?

Uh...maybe tell them you quit because you didn't get paid. Maybe it shows you aren't "dedicated" enough that you would make games for free but I think most employeers would understand the whole working for money concept.

What does working 50-60 hours a week not getting paid do for you? Stress from the job, stress from not having money, stress wondering if the game gets cancelled.

Having passion for doing something is one thing but I'll take a roof and multiple meals a day over that anytime.

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Quote:
 Original post by CDPropAs far as why people stay, what can I say? I'm positive that each and every employee of Sensory Sweep spent every spare moment they had looking for another job. The problem is, on top of the fact that Utah has only a handful of game studios, there's a recession on. The jobs just aren't there.

I get three calls a week from companies that are looking for programmers.