Ex-employee sues Valve for $3.1m in damages

Valve refutes all claims

[Update: In November 2017, this case went to a jury trial in Western Washington District Court. The jury returned a verdict finding a) the Plaintiff was not a Valve employee in January 2016 and b) that no discrimination occurred. As such, Defendant Valve prevailed in this lawsuit, and it doesn’t seem as if an appeal is pending.

The Plaintiff’s former supervisor who was mentioned/accused in this lawsuit has asked us to retract their name in this article. Given that Valve prevailed and none of the allegations were proven, we’re inclined to comply with that request. That person’s name has been changed to their initials.]

A former translator for Valve is suing the company for $3.1m.

As reported by Polygon, the suit — filed in April — seeks $1m for general damages, a further $1m for loss of earnings, another $1m for special damages, and an extra $150k for unpaid wages after the employee went to human resources to complain about her supervisor’s utilisation of “people who were interested in their products to provide translation services for free”.

She also alleges her boss created a “hostile working environment”, which includes referring to her as “it” following gender reassignment surgery.

The ex-staff member — who had been employed as a Spanish translator — made a request to work remotely as she relocated to Los Angeles to undertake her surgery. Given other factors, which include “related disabilities including depression”, Valve accommodated her request.

Though Valve agreed and the employee had the same job, doing chiefly the same things, Valve changed her status from “employee” to “independent contractor”. Consequently, she lost her employee benefits, including overtime pay and health insurance.

Furthermore, she asserts Valve enticed minors to translate for free under the empty promise of paid work, or even paid positions.

“These unpaid translators, often very young minors, were being exploited and lured to work for Defendants based on false promises made by her supervisor, TZ. Indeed, they would work hours upon hours based on promises that their work could lead to a paid position, but in the end TZ invariably found excuses to renege on his promises.”

It was for this, as well as “other complaints”, that the employee went to Human Resources about TZ. And it was shortly after this, the Plaintiff states, Valve fired her. 

Valve told her it was relocating her position back to its Washington HQ, but though the ex-employee maintains she offered to relocate back to Washington, by this point it was too late.

“As a direct and proximate result of said wrongful acts by Defendants,” states the suit, “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.”

Valve refutes all allegations in a written response filed on May 20, 2016. 

“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.”

Vikki Blake