Steam creator and Half-Life publisher Valve are facing a $3m lawsuit brought to them by a former employee who claims that she was discriminated against for being transgender, having her employment terminated after complaining about internal translation practices.
The former employee, who worked as a translator within the company, claims that her supervisor referred to her as “it” following her gender reassignment surgery, saying that Valve was hostile environment to work in. Polygon, who acquired a copy of the lawsuit, reports that the plaintiff asked Valve if she could relocate to Los Angeles, where her gender reassignment surgery was to take place. Valve agreed, but mandated that because of her request, her job status would be changed to an independent contractor.
The plaintiff claims she was let go after she contacted Valve’s human resources department with an official complaint, raising concerns over the amount of “very young minors” who were working as translators, all of them unpaid. Days after filing the complaint, the plaintiff found herself unemployed. According to the lawsuit, Valve told the employee that her job was being transferring to the company’s headquarters in Washington, but even after the employee agreed, Valve “refused”.
“While defendants accommodated her at first, her direct supervisor referred to her in derogatory fashion,” the lawsuit reads. “He referred to plaintiff as ‘it,’ which is highly offensive to a transgender person.”
“The real reason for termination was that plaintiff was complaining about the hostile work environment and illegal business practices …moreover, plaintiff was terminated due to her transgender status,” it continues.
Valve has denied any wrongdoing and has filed a counterclaim, in which the company states: “Defendant denies each and every material allegation of plaintiff’s unverified complaint, and further denies that plaintiff has been damaged in any manner or amount, or at all, as a result of any act or omission by defendant.”
The former employee is seeking $1 million each for damages, special damages, and loss of earnings. She is also asking for $150,000 to cover unpaid wages and penalties. Additionally, the former employee is seeking punitive damages at an amount to be decided by the court, as well as a trial by jury.