A complex lawsuit was recently filed against Valve, in which a former employee is suing for $3.1 million in damages, alleging transgender discrimination, misclassification of employment, retaliation for whistle blowing, and more.
The lawsuit was brought to light by Polygon, where you can also download the related court documents filed by a currently unnamed former Valve employee.
Valve has not yet responded to my request for comment.
The employee, whose job primarily consisted of translating content into Spanish and acting as an internal liaison for Spanish-speaking law enforcement, worked in the company’s Washington office. In 2012, she wanted to pursue a gender transition in Los Angeles. Valve approved the move, in addition to allowing her to work from home, but reportedly required the employee to move from full-time to an independent contractor.
An independent contractor isn’t as entitled to as much as full-time employees, such as health benefits. The suit alleges she was not paid overtime wages, either.
Around this time, the employee filed a report to Valve’s human resources department, alleging the company was exploiting folks for translation services.
Per the suit:
“She complained that these unpaid translators, often young minors, were being exploited and lured to work for [Valve] based on false promises made by her supervisor, Torsten Zabka. Indeed, they would work hours upon hours based on promises that their work could lead to a paid position, but in the end Torsten Zabka invariably found excuses to renege on his promises. [Employee] felt bad for the exploited minors and complained to Human Resources about this issue, and other complaints involving Torsten Zabka creating a hostile work environment and mistreating employees.”
Within days, the suit alleges, the employee’s job was terminated “without any valid basis” in January. Officially, the termination was due to the job being relocated, but despite the employee agreeing to move, they were terminated.
The employee says the termination was “due to her trans-gender status,” and her supervisor “referred to her in a derogatory fashion” by calling her “it.”
In a legal response, Valve was extremely brief. The company denied every single one one of the allegations and said the employee wasn’t “damaged in any manner or amount, or at all, as a result of any act or omission by [Valve].”
You can read Valve’s entire response here.