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Transgender Video Game Industry Employee Converted to Independent Contractor Status Raises Misclassification and Discrimination Claims

Author: Richard J. Reibstein

5/31/2016
Transgender Video Game Industry Employee Converted to Independent Contractor Status Raises Misclassification and Discrimination Claims

A prominent Washington State video game company, Valve Corporation, creator of Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and Left 4 Dead, has been sued by a former employee it converted into an independent contractor as an accommodation to allow her to relocate to California to undergo transgender transition surgery. This case highlights the legal difficulties that may befall companies that convert W-2 employees into 1099 contractors – a not uncommon practice that raises a red flag but, as noted in the "Takeaways," can in many instances be done in a manner consistent with independent contractor and employment laws.