Riot Games, the company behind such games as League of Legends and Valorant, will pay out a total of $100 million — including an $80 million settlement, plus an additional $20 million in fees and expenses — after reaching a global settlement agreement with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), and several private Plaintiffs to resolve its gender discrimination lawsuit from 2018.
As per the agreement, Riot will pay $80 million to all current and former full-time employees and temporary agency contractors in California who identify as women and worked at the company from November 2014 to the present day. The other $20 million will go towards "attorneys' fees and miscellaneous expenses."
Furthermore, Riot has agreed to have its internal reporting and pay equity processes monitored by a third-party company that is approved by both Riot and the DFEH for three years.
Final approval of this settlement by the court is currently pending, and a hearing is expected to take place within "the coming months."
“Three years ago, Riot was at the heart of what became a reckoning in our industry," A Riot spokesperson said. "We had to face the fact that despite our best intentions, we hadn’t always lived up to our values. As a company we stood at a crossroads; we could deny the shortcomings of our culture, or we could apologize, correct course, and build a better Riot. We chose the latter.
"We’re incredibly grateful to every Rioter who has worked to create a culture where inclusivity is the norm, where we’re deeply committed to fairness and equality, and where embracing diversity fuels creativity and innovation.
"While we’re proud of how far we’ve come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past. We hope that this settlement properly acknowledges those who had negative experiences at Riot and demonstrates our desire to lead by example in bringing more accountability and equality to the games industry.”
In this case, Riot Games is represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, while the plaintiffs in the class are represented by Genie Harrison Law APC and JML Law APLC. Genie Harrison also issued a statement saying that this was a great day not just for the women of Riot Games, but for those all over the gaming and tech industry who deserve a workplace devoid of any harassment and discrimination.
"This is a great day for the women of Riot Games — and for women at all video game and tech companies — who deserve a workplace that is free of harassment and discrimination,” said Genie Harrison. “We appreciate Riot’s introspection and work since 2018 toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive company, its willingness to take responsibility for its past, and its commitment to continued fairness and equality in the future.”
As previously noted, this settlement is for the gender-based discrimination lawsuit that was filed in 2018 following a report from Kotaku that exposed the sexist culture that had become prevalent at Riot Games.
Kotaku spoke to 28 current and former employees who had dealt with a "bro culture" that "in some instances, rewards behavior that disadvantages women."
Jessica Negron, one of the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said she went through a situation where her manager had quit and she took on all of their responsibilities but saw no increase in compensation of change of job title. Three men were hired over her despite her speaking up, and she was never even interviewed or talked to about the role.
Melanie McCracken is the other plaintiff in the case and claimed that, after speaking up about her experiences with the sexist culture at the company, "HR failed to keep the meeting confidential and leaked the information to her supervisor." In 2015, she took a new position, and her former supervisor was then promoted to a senior position a year later. McCracken was then told that she had been "given a five-month countdown to find a new position of 'be fired.'"
In 2019, Riot Games was ordered to pay at least $10 million as part of a settlement for the lawsuit, but the DFEH stepped in and blocked the agreement and stated these victims should be paid as much as $400 million.
In 2021, Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent was sued following allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. Riot's investigation showed no evidence of these accusations, and this particular settlement does not include this separate case.
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