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PlayVS Reaches Settlement with Former Employee in Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

The employee first filed suit in Los Angeles County in March, alleging pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination.

High school esports organizer PlayVS settled a lawsuit with a former employee who alleged the company discriminated against and eventually fired her after she disclosed her pregnancy, according to a document filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday.

Settlement details were not disclosed. On the order of the court, PlayVS, the former employee Rachel Waynick and their respective counsels met with Resolve Law Los Angeles, a third-party group of skilled attorneys who volunteer their time to mediate labor disputes for the county. On Tuesday, counsel for PlayVS and Waynick submitted a notice to the court that the two parties had settled after the Resolve Law conference call and will be filing a motion to dismiss the case.

Waynick first sued PlayVS in March, alleging that the company discriminated against her after she disclosed her pregnancy to a manager in June 2021. 

After being placed on doctor-ordered, early-pregnancy leave due to stress in July 2021, Waynick claimed in the suit that the company fired her the day she returned to work that August. Waynick was still pregnant when she was fired, several former PlayVS employees familiar with the situation told The Jacob Wolf Report in March.

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Waynick’s suit sought unspecified damages and recoupment of attorney’s fees and alleged that Los Angeles-based PlayVS violated five counts of California labor law. Waynick initially reported PlayVS to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, but later obtained a right to sue from the agency to circumvent the investigation process and sue the company directly.

Waynick worked at PlayVS as a quality assurance analyst from January 2021 until her firing in August 2021, according to her LinkedIn page. 

PlayVS was started in 2018 by entrepreneur Delane Parnell, who coined the idea while participating in an incubator at Science Inc., a Los Angeles-based investment firm. 

The company struck key partnerships with exclusive rights to operate high school esports tournaments in games such as “League of Legends” and to be the official esports partner of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which consists of more than 18,500 U.S. schools. In less than four years, the company went from founding to worth $405 million. Its investors include Science, Softbank, New Enterprise Associates, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Riot Games, the creator of “League of Legends.” 

But the company has been under fire nearly all year—with state non-profit esports groups speaking out in mass on social media and to the press, including to The Washington Post, which reported that PlayVS sent some of those groups cease-and-desist emails. 

In April, six former employees and one other told The Jacob Wolf Report that the company knowingly misled one of its publishing partners, “Fortnite” creator Epic Games, about player count numbers and allowed unverified players who did not attend a scholastic institution to compete in its tournaments. In a video after the release of that story, Parnell denied those allegations. Epic Games declined to comment.

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