Image: Nintendo

Nintendo of America was last month named alongside hiring firm Aston Carter in a workers' rights complaint, when an individual worker claimed their legally protected right to unionise was violated. Nintendo issued a response to this, stating how the worker was "a contractor previously terminated for disclosure of confidential information" and this followed with more allegations about the working conditions for part-time and contract workers at Nintendo.

Now, in an update, Axios Gaming author Stephen Totilo has shared part of an internal message sent out by Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser to employees about "stories appearing in some media" regarding the "alleged working conditions at Nintendo". Bowser said he and the executive leadership team found many of the points "troubling" and were "reviewing the content". He reiterated how Nintendo had a "zero-tolerance for inappropriate conduct, including harassment, discrimination or intimidation".

A current contractor in product testing at Nintendo told Axios they found Bowser's message "disappointing" as it apparently didn't reference "the contractor issue core to so many accounts". Other Nintendo of America contractors also shared their stories with Axios. One former contractor known as Ash, who worked in the customer service center, spoke about their struggle to take time off during a difficult period in their life:

They worked in Nintendo’s customer service center for several years through 2015. Strict time-off rules for contractors and limited pathways to full-time employment added to stress that contractors could be dropped at any moment. That pressure, they said, aggravated a heart condition. Ash says their moment of disillusionment came when their grandpa died: “I was told if I went to his funeral, I wouldn’t have a job when I came back.”

Axios notes how these accounts square with what's been published by news sites like Kotaku and IGN. Nintendo's contractors are employed by staffing firms that reportedly treat them like "second-class" workers - as they apparently don't receive the benefits of full-time employees and are never given the chance to move into more secure positions. Nintendo shared an official PR statement with GoNintendo in April, responding to the workers' rights complaint:

"We are aware of the claim, which was filed with the National Labor Relations Board by a contractor who was previously terminated for the disclosure of confidential information and for no other reason. Nintendo is not aware of any attempts to unionize or related activity and intends to cooperate with the investigation conducted by the NLRB.

"Nintendo is fully committed to providing a welcoming and supportive work environment for all our employees and contractors. We take matters of employment very seriously."

You can learn more about this story in our previous coverage. If we hear any developments, we'll be sure to let you know. As this is a sensitive topic, please keep our Community Rules in mind when discussing it below.