Elder Scrolls Online trans

Former Elder Scrolls Online dev accuses Bethesda of firing her for being trans

By Olivia Richman

|

Jul 11, 2023

Reading time: 3 min

A former Elder Scrolls Online developer has accused ZeniMax of discrimination after she came out as a trans woman.

A four-hour video appeared on YouTube over the weekend that outlined a variety of incidents reported by Leona while working on Elder Scrolls Online until 2022. According to Leona, she worked at ZeniMax “without issues” for three years but noticed a change in her manager when she came out as transgender in 2021.

During her transition, Leona claims that her manager purposefully outed her to the rest of the team, used incorrect photos of her identity, and was even told to use her dead name. Leona even stated that her manager accused her of causing a “chaotic situation” by changing her name.

After facing a lot of difficulty over her name change, Leona had to go above her manager and report what had been going on. Unfortunately, HR wasn’t too understanding, wrote Leona. She ended up being labeled a “liability” after trying to explain the situation.

“My career at ZeniMax ended when HR at Bethesda’s corporate office used my upcoming gender-affirming surgeries as leverage to force me to resign and release the company from any potential discrimination lawsuit,” she wrote on the Reddit thread. “This was in retaliation for raising concerns over how my manager had been treating me unfairly.”

Bethesda under fire for transphobic firing

Leona uploaded a YouTube video that was over four hours long explaining everything that happened. This included screenshots of work chats and audio recordings of meetings.

Here’s everything Leona claimed in her video:

Once Leona came out as trans, she noticed a lot of questionable behavior and pushback from her manager. This included her requesting an application for an open position but then being the only one on the team who was not given a test for it. Later, Leona was given different assignments than the rest of her team after she requested time off for trans-related healthcare.

Soon, the manager was starting to seemingly sabotage Leona, claiming that her performance was bad and accusing her of making mistakes. At this point, Leona was trying to move to another department, but her manager wouldn’t let her.

In response, Leona reached out to corporate. Unfortunately, Bethesda’s HR did not do anything about the situation. In fact, HR allegedly said a lot of callous things that were borderline transphobic. She then received a negative yearly review from her manager and was then given an offer to “resign” and release ZeniMax from “any potential discrimination lawsuit.”

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At this point, Leona worked under another manager for two months. But she eventually gave in and signed the offer after her first surgery in the spring of 2022.

She explained: “I wish I didn’t, I wish I wasn’t so scared. But I signed. Because if that offer was still on the table after I proved indisputably that I was being targeted by [my manager], corporate would find a way to get rid of me no matter what.”

On Reddit, the gaming community applauded Leona for coming forward and offered her support and sympathy. One gamer wrote: “I’m so sorry this happened to you. This sounds serious enough that you need a lot more than advice from Reddit. If I were in your situation, I would consult with a lawyer (maybe several); most will have free or low-cost initial consultations. Contingent fee (you only pay if you win) isn’t the norm in employment discrimination law, but if you search hard enough, you might well eventually find one. Good luck.”

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