The animated film Sausage Party was a hit for the studio, but it came under fire after several animators came forward to explain they weren't properly credited nor given overtime pay on the project. It started in 2016 after an interview with directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan resulted in animators revealing they left the project due to high stress and being told to work overtime for free. That eventually made its way into court, as Unifor filed a complaint two and a half years ago against Nitrogen, the animation studios responsible for the film. Now they have reason to celebrate (via Cartoon Brew).
The British Columbia Employment Standards Branch ruled that those workers who left the project were entitled to receive their back overtime pay. The story goes that Nitrogen wasn't paying that out initially and wanted workers to work that extra time anyway, but eventually, the animators presented a petition that resulted in getting overtime pay for the crew. The ones that had left beforehand though were not compensated for the overtime they worked, but now they will be.
"We're extremely pleased with the decision," said Jennifer Moreau, secretary-treasurer at Unifor Local 2000, the union that filed the legal complaint on behalf of the film's non-unionized workers. "It means people will be paid properly, and studios will have to think twice before claiming they're employees are high-tech and ineligible for overtime."
The B.C. Employment Standards Branch's ruling means Nitrogen will have to pay any outstanding overtime as well as a $500 dollar fine, and you can check out a snippet from the full ruling below.
"I have determined that Cinesite Vancouver lnc., formerly known as Nitrogen Studios Canada f nc. (the "Employer") contravened section 40 of the Emptoyment Standards Act (the "Act") by failing to pay its employees overtime. Pursuant to section 79 of the Act, I
require the Employer to:
1. Within 30 days of the date of this determination, at its expense, employ a payroll service approved of by the Director to calculate all wages, in accordance with the Act, payable to its employees, and
2. Within 60 days of the date of this determination, pay its employees all wages that the payroll service determines are payable to them and provide proof of payment of wages, including copies of wage statements that comply with section 27 of the Act, to the Director.
Section 98(1) of the Act requires that the Director impose a mandatory administrative penalty on the Employer if the Director imposes a requirement under section"
Those animators won't have their names in the credits, unfortunately, but at least they will be properly compensated for the time and effort they contributed to the project.
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