Riot Games Settles Sex Harassment, Discrimination Lawsuit
Riot Games has settled a class action lawsuit that accused it of gender discrimination in pay and promotion, sexual harassment, and retaliation against women.
Details of the settlement were not released, but Riot, which makes games like League of Legends and is owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, claimed in a release that both parties believe the deal “is fair for all parties involved.”
Fortune contacted Riot Games, but the company declined to provide additional comment as the matter is still awaiting court approval.
Two women who worked at Riot Games, Melanie McCracken and Jessica Negron, filed a lawsuit in November against Riot for unpaid wages, damages, and other penalties. The lawsuit came after an investigation by gaming news site Kotaku, which outlined a sexist culture at Riot Games that included female employees being overlooked for promotions or recruitment.
The lawsuit launched a larger conversation about the culture at Riot Games. Employees staged a walkout protesting the company’s forced arbitration policy that blocked employees from filing harassment claims in court, and Riot put out a “First Steps Forward” plan a year ago to address the concerns.
Riot Games has not eliminated forced arbitration, it but now allows new employees to opt out of arbitration for harassment suits. The company also said it would consider allowing the same option for current employees after the current litigation was resolved. The release did not provide an update on the matter.
The plan laid out a number of actions for Riot Games including expanding its diversity initiative, bringing in third-party consultants to evaluate the company’s culture, and establishing an investigation process for future incidents.
Some employees associated with the issues raised in the lawsuit were fired, according to Kotaku. However, others including COO Scott Gelb, who reportedly grabbed colleagues’ genitals, remain at the company.
“A number of significant changes to the corporate culture have been made, including increased transparency and industry-leading diversity and inclusion programs,” Ryan Saba, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in a joint release between the plaintiff’s counsel and Riot. “The many Riot employees who spoke up, including the plaintiffs, significantly helped to change the culture at Riot.”
While Riot addressed many of the issues following the investigation and lawsuit, it said that the problems were not ingrained in its culture.
“After extensively reviewing these issues, we can confidently state that gender discrimination (in pay or promotion), sexual harassment, and retaliation are not systemic issues at Riot,” Riot said in a statement.
The lawsuit and walkout further mark a growing dissatisfaction among video game company workers. In addition to concerns of toxic workplaces, the past year has seen multiple game companies lay off staff with little to no warning or severance.
Kotaku noted that the Riot Games walkout “appears to be the first labor-related walkout for a large game studio.”
TL;DR: Class action lawsuit against Riot has been settled (other suits that went to arbitration are still pending). We believe this is a huge victory for women in games. Full text of statement from the walkout organizers here: pic.twitter.com/H9qhse35V8— Rioters Against Forced Arbitration (@RiotersAFA) August 23, 2019
Organizers of the walkout called the settlement “a huge victory for women in games.”