Valve Faces Transgender Discrimination Lawsuit

Lobby Area of Valve’s offices in February 2016. Photo Wiki

The video game company Valve is facing a potential lawsuit for $3 million following a former employee alleging that they were discriminated against due to their transgender status.

Valve is one of the biggest names in the video game industry and is responsible for hits such as Half-Life, Team Fortress, Counter Strike and Portal as well as the digital distribution platform Steam.

The former employee, who cannot be named for legal reasons, worked as a translator for the company, translating their games and software into Spanish.  She worked for the company without incident for many years until 2012 when she informed her bosses of her intentions to transition.

Although the translators needs were initially met, she says that when she took a leave of absence from work to recover from surgery her contract was altered to reclassify her as an independent contractor.

Her employment with Valve was terminated in January 2016 after she filed a complaint with her employers describing a ‘hostile work environment’. The lawsuit alleges that whilst she was terminated for the workplace issue it also claims that the ‘Plaintiff was terminated due to her transgender status.’

‘While Defendants accommodated her at first, her direct supervisor referred to her in a derogatory fashion.  He referred to Plaintiff as ‘it’ – which is highly offensive to a transgender person.  The term ‘it’ dehumanises transgender persons and the usage of such a term [by the supervisor] shows that he was biased against her and shows that her transgender status was another reason he decided to terminate her.  The real reasons for termination are unlawful.’

The lawsuit is claiming that the unlawful termination has had knock on effects on the trans woman, resulting in ‘actual, consequential and incidental financial’ loss, as well as leaving her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The Gaming site Polygon is reporting that she is suing the company for ‘$1 million for general damages, $1 million for special damages, $1 million for loss of earnings and $150,000 for unpaid wages’.

Valve have filed a response this week, denying all allegations, and has called for the case to be dismissed.


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Amy is a journalist and editor contributing the websites Planet Transgender, Gay News Network, The Bottle Episode, The Retro Box and Claire Channel. Amy is also a published comic book writer and letterer. In addition to her writing Amy has also worked with the Centre For Hate Crime Studies in Leicester and has worked in the capacity of an advisor to the United Nations Entity For Gender Equality and The Empowerment of Women.



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