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A.M. v. Valve Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

October 13, 2017

A.M., Plaintiff,
v.
VALVE CORPORATION, Defendant.

          PRETRIAL ORDER

          Thomas S. Zilly, United States District Judge

         JURISDICTION

         The Court has jurisdiction over this civil action under 28 U.S.C. section 1332 (diversity jurisdiction) as the parties are diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.

         CLAIMS AND DEFENSES

         The plaintiff will pursue at trial the following claims:

1. Wrongful Termination based on Defendant's discriminatory motive for terminating Plaintiff because of her transgender status and/or her disabilities.
2. Discrimination based on Defendant's termination of Plaintiff because of her transgender status and/or disabilities.
3. Unpaid Wages (Overtime) based on Defendant's failure to compensate Plaintiff for days she worked in excess of eight hours and weeks she worked in excess of 40 hours.
4. Cal. Business and Professional Code 17200 -17208, claims based on Defendant's violation of wage and hours laws, specifically Defendant's failure to pay Plaintiff all wages due and owing, including overtime wages.

         The defendant will pursue the following affirmative defenses:

         1. Statute of limitations:

         Pursuant to California's one-year statute of limitations, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff's discrimination claim is time-barred to the extent it is based on alleged acts of discrimination occurring before March 30, 2015.

         2. Failure to mitigate:

         Plaintiff's damages are limited to the extent she voluntarily resigned in 2017 from comparable employment at another computer games designer and distributor, NetMarble. Plaintiff's job at NetMarble provided her with pay, benefits, and job duties that were substantially similar to those she had in her prior work with Defendant. Plaintiff's damages are further limited to the extent she did not otherwise exercise reasonable diligence in searching for, accepting and retaining comparable employment after her work for Valve ended.

         3. Limitation on damages:

         In addition, as discussed further in Valve's Motions in Limine and in its Trial Brief, defendant believes there should be no jury trial concerning any aspect of Plaintiff's employee/independent contractor misclassification claim because (1) the Court has already dismissed her claims under California Labor Code Section 226.8; (2) Defendant has already provided Plaintiff with all of the unpaid wages and associated interest to which she claims to be entitled; (3) her request for damages under Chapter 5 (i.e., Section 17200 et seq) of the California Business and Professions Code is improper because that Chapter does not authorize the recovery of any damages, and because she has already been provided with the only restitutionary relief to which she might be entitled, namely, unpaid wages and associated interest; (4) her request for treble damages based on the language of Chapter 4 of the California Business and Professions Code is improper because she has not and cannot assert a cause of action under the Chapter for employee/independent contractor misclassification; and (5) her claim for unpaid final wages is barred under California law in cases involving disputes about employee/independent contractor misclassification.

         ADMITTED FACTS

         The following facts are admitted by the parties:

         1. Plaintiff is a transgender woman.

         2. Plaintiff worked for Defendant as a translator and in customer support from 2008 until January 2016.

         3. On January 15, 2016 Defendant notified Plaintiff that it decided to end Plaintiff's work with Defendant and bring Spanish translations in-house rather than continue to have the work done remotely. Defendant notified Plaintiff it is a company of in-house collaborators and Plaintiff being off site made it more difficult to communicate with her effectively regarding issues within the STS community.

         4. In response to the termination notice, Plaintiff asked “If I were willing to relocate back to Seattle, do you believe the company would be willing to restore me as a full time in-house employee?” Defendant responded “We are not interested in moving you back to a full time position at Valve.” 5. In 2013, Defendant provided positive feedback to Plaintiff regarding her performance.

         6. In the year preceding her termination, Defendant gave Plaintiff an hourly raise from $40 per hour to $45 per hour.

         7. At the time of termination, Defendant had no issue with the quality of Plaintiff's foreign language translations.

         8. Before relocating to Los Angeles, Plaintiff received feedback that she was seen by co-workers as difficult, negative, argumentative, and not collaborative.

         ISSUES OF LAW

         The following are the issues of law to be ...


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