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Former Valve employee is suing the company for $3.1m

Alleges developer exploited minors for free labour, discriminated against transgender staff.

A jury ruled in favour of defendant Valve on 2nd November 2017, finding the plaintiff was not discriminated against for transgender or disability reasons, nor dismissed for such.

Valve Corporation is being sued for $3.1m from a former employee who alleges she was wrongfully terminated.

As reported by Polygon, the employee, who is only identified by her initials, was primarily a Spanish translator. Prior to 2012, the then-employee requested to work remotely from Los Angeles, where she would be undergoing gender reassignment surgery. Valve accommodated this request so she could work from home due to this as well as depression and "other socialisation issues" she was suffering from.

So far, so good. The problem was that Valve changed her status from "employee" to "independent contractor" during this time, even though she was still performing the same duties. "The title 'independent contractor' is irrelevant as plaintiff was absolutely an employee under the law and she was misclassified as an independent contractor from 2012-2016," the suit said. However, the reclassification meant that she lost her employee benefits, such as health insurance, and was no longer receiving overtime pay for any extra hours worked.

That's only the beginning.

The Plaintiff's bigger problem was that she alleges her supervisor exploited minors by asking them to translate work for free under the false promise that it would lead to paid work or even a role at the company.

She "complained that these unpaid translators, often very young minors, were being exploited and lured to work for Defendants based on false promises made by her supervisor [redacted]. Indeed, they would work hours upon hours based on promises that their work could lead to a paid position, but in the end [the supervisor] invariably found excuses to renege on his promises," the suit stated.

"Plaintiff felt bad for the exploited minors and complained to Human Resources about this issue, and other complaints involving [the supervisor] creating a hostile work environment and mistreating employees."

One of these "other complaints" was that her immediate supervisor would refer to her using the dehumanising pronoun "it", creating a hostile work environment.

It was shortly after lodging theses complaints that Valve terminated her. According to the suit, Valve said this was because it was relocating her job to someone local in Washington. The Plaintiff offered to relocate back to Valve's Bellevue campus, but the company declined.

"As a direct and proximate result of said wrongful acts by Defendants, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, humiliation, shame, despair, embarrassment, depression, stress, anxiety, fear, and mental pain and anguish, all to Plaintiff's damage in an amount to be proven at time of trial."

As such, the suit is seeking the Plaintiff $1m for general damages, along with another $1m for loss of earnings, $1m for special damages, and another $150k for unpaid wages.

For its part, Valve has denied all of the following allegations.

"Defendant denies each and every material allegation of Plaintiff's unverified Complaint, and each cause of action, thereof, and further denies that the Plaintiff has been damaged in any manner or amount, or at all, as a result of any act or omission by Defendant," Valve said in its response.

We've reached out to Valve to see if the studio would further comment on this lawsuit and will update should we hear more.