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An ex-employee of Valve is suing the company for a number of reasons, including misclassification of their employment, discrimination and creating a hostile work environment. The plaintiff is suing Valve for $3.15 million in damages, and hopes to bring the case to trial.
According to Game Informer the former employee worked at Valve until they were fired back in 2012. They worked in localizing content into Spanish and the article mentions that they were a liaison with law enforcement agencies in Spanish-speaking countries. The details on the job at Valve were kind of sketchy beyond that point, but the allegations further mention that there were others working as translators in unpaid positions under a supervisor. So it sounded like some kind of work related with dealing with potential legal or criminal matters taking place outside of the United States in relation to Valve or their services.
The claim about the unpaid workers came about because there were claims that the former employee raising concerns over the unpaid workers is part of what led to what they're calling wrongful termination at Valve.
This was further amplified by claims that Valve was exercising discrimination against the individual after they received gender reassignment surgery and after being allowed to work from home, was then reclassified from an employee to an independent contractor, thus losing their benefits.
One thing worth noting is that Valve operates out of the state of Washington, which has a an “At Will” state policy for employment, which means that anyone working for them can be fired or have their employment terminated for any reason at all, without notice and without cause.
It may be difficult to argue the wrongful termination in the court of law, but they do mention in the suit that the discrimination and misclassification of their employment status is something that could be used against Valve.
Game Informer explains that misclassifying employees as independent contractors changes how benefits and taxes are handled. For instance, as an independent contractor the company no longer withholds taxes, meaning that they won't automatically cut from the check and pay Uncle Sam what they're owed; it's left up to the contractor to work out the taxes on their own. The suit alleges that this misclassification resulted in the plaintiff having to pay higher taxes and more expenses out of pocket.
According to the plaintiff, there are allegations that the discrimination and firing caused for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), humiliation, depression and anxiety.
In addition to the $3.15 million, they also will add additional damages to be determined when the case goes to trial.
Some are speculating that taking the case to trial and having it involve a jury would be extremely time consuming for both the defendant (Valve) and the plaintiff (the ex-employee) and that such a thing would likely not end well for one or the other (or both). The common response on resolving the issue is that Valve will likely attempt to settle the case out of court and attempt to make the whole thing go away. For now, Valve filed a response denying the allegations and the claims leveled against them.