In 2018, Jagex Fired Old School Runescape Moderator Jed Sanderson (opens in new tab)-known to the community as Mod Jed – for “misusing moderator privileges”: Specifically, that he was stealing large amounts of in-game currency from other players. But the Cambridge Employment Tribunal in the UK ruled that Sanderson was unfairly dismissed and awarded him severance pay as a result.
The case began in mid-2018 when an Old School Runescape player claimed he had lost 45 billion coins because of a “serious data breach (opens in new tab).” That’s a lot of money in the real world: exchange rates fluctuate, but based on current prices on gold-selling websites, that much Old School Runescape gold is worth around $20,000.
Some players doubted the veracity of the story, but a few months after the report was made, Jagex confirmed it was legitimate, announcing that a staff member “was fired from his job at Jagex after gross misuse of moderator privileges”. The studio did not name the employee, but a deep dive resetera (opens in new tab) post claimed it was Sanderson. Sanderson was already known to the community because of his association with Reign of Terror, an Old School Runescape clan accused of using DDoS attacks to cheat in Runescape tournaments (opens in new tab).
Anyway, Sanderson was fired and that was it – except he wasn’t, because in November 2018, just a few months after being fired, he filed a lawsuit. complaint (opens in new tab) with the Labor Court. It took more than three years for the claim to be processed through the system, but after a hearing in January, the court issued a ruling in Sanderson’s favor in February.
The complete decision (opens in new tab) is long and depends on many procedural issues, but the short version is that Sanderson claimed that he was not actually responsible for the gold theft, and that Jagex did not investigate the matter properly because it had “predetermined” that he was guilty. The court agreed, saying that his culpability based on the evidence available at the time was “speculative” and that Jagex had not properly investigated the matter before dismissing him.
“The result letters do not reflect a reasonable investigation. There are no details of allegations of gross misconduct, details of technical evidence or responses to issues raised by Sanderson that led to the adjournment of the disciplinary hearing and the appeal,” he added. the ruling states. “I therefore consider that the plaintiff was unfairly discharged by the defendant under section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1998.”
Interestingly, although the labor judge said in the initial ruling that “it is not inevitable that Sanderson would have been fired” had a proper investigation taken place, they reversed that position in the last sentence to cure (opens in new tab).
“I think that if fair procedure had been followed … the defendant’s decision as to whether the plaintiff was guilty of the alleged misconduct would likely have been the same,” the judge wrote. “So, on reconsideration, I would say that 100% the defendant would have ruled out [the claimant] such was his belief in the evidence.”
That ruling means that the compensatory award in the case, which would have been just under £12,000 ($15,640) based on lost wages, was reduced to 0. Sanderson’s overall compensation was reduced by a further 50% because he “contributed to his resignation”. He was paid a further £500 ($652) for loss of legal rights, however, leaving him with a total of £1,008 ($1,314) in his wrongful termination claim. Sanderson had also requested an order to reinstate him at Jagex – this request was refused.
Thanks, game industry (opens in new tab).