A former employee at PlayVS, a high school esports platform, has filed a lawsuit with Los Angeles County Superior Court over wrongful termination and alleged discrimination, according to a report by independent journalist Jacob Wolf. The woman, Rachel Waynick, was allegedly discriminated against and fired after telling her manager she was pregnant.
After Waynick returned from a leave for pregnancy complications on August 17, 2021, she found out she’d been fired, according to the complaint for damages. PlayVS offered her severance if she agreed to drop her claims, but she rejected the offer.
Waynick worked as a quality assurance analyst for seven months prior to her termination. She informed her manager that she was pregnant on June 10, 2021, according to the complaint for damages. She was placed on a performance improvement plan the next day. The complaint says she went to human resources about being placed on PIP, but her concerns were dismissed. She then faced harassment in the workplace and HR once again dismissed the mistreatment after she brought it to the department’s attention.
“After her complaint, Ms. Waynick was bullied and treated with hostility in the workplace,” the lawsuit reads. “She complained about the harassment and retaliation to HR but she was ignored. The ongoing adverse treatment caused Ms. Waynick to suffer extreme stress.”
In the lawsuit, Waynick and her attorneys are seeking an unspecified amount in punitive and compensatory damages from PlayVS for five counts that include, “Discrimination, Retaliation, Failure to Prevent Discrimination, Pregnancy Discrimination and Wrongful Termination.”
PlayVS lawsuit continues the controversy
PlayVS has faced criticism in the past weeks, as multiple outlets published stories about issues with the company. Upcomer reported about PlayVS’ practice of pushing out other non-profit high school esports organizers, while the Washington Post explored the subject further by focusing on how teachers have interacted with the company. Wolf also published another report previously about PlayVS past business relationship with Epic Games.
A for-profit, venture capitalist-backed startup company, PlayVS bills itself as the go-to organization for high school esports. The company organizes leagues and sets up matches in a handful of different game titles.
PlayVS shot into the public sphere when they partnered with the National Federation of State High School Associations, the “national leader and advocate for high school athletics as well as fine and performing arts programs,” according to its website. Since that time, PlayVS has continue to partner with game companies like Riot Games in an attempt to become the exclusive provider of high school esports leagues in their respective game titles.
PlayVS did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.