Riot Games Agreed To Pay 10 Million Dollars To Settle Gender Discrimination Suit

Riot Games Agreed To Pay 10 Million Dollars To Settle Gender Discrimination Suit
Credit: Riot Games via YouTube

A suit against Riot Games began in November 2018, when two women who worked at the Los Angeles studio sued over violations of the California Equal Pay Act, alleging that they were routinely subjected to sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

According to court documents filed on Monday, Riot Games agreed to pay out at least 10 million dollars to women who worked at the company in the last five years as part of the settlement in the class-action suit over alleged gender discrimination.

‘We’re pleased to have a proposed settlement to fully resolve the class action lawsuit. The settlement is another important step forward, and demonstrates our commitment to living up to our values and to making Riot an inclusive environment for the industry’s best talent,’ said a spokesperson from Riot Games.

While around 10 million sounds a lot to the regular reader, it is a penny in the pocket of Riot Game, who is backed up by Chinese giant Tencent. The company has around 2,500 employees around the world and brought in 1,4 billion revenue in 2018 alone.

The settlement filing also lays out several commitments Riot has made to improve its company culture, including beefing up internal programs for reporting sexual harassment and discrimination. They include undertaking a review of all pay, promotion, and hiring practices to increase fairness and transparency, hiring a dedicated chief diversity officer, and creating several employee groups empowered to track the company’s progress on these fronts.

Both the plaintiffs and Riot have agreed to the preliminary settlement, but it still needs to be approved by the court.

The lawsuit was filed in the wake of a dramatic series of exposés, beginning with an article from the games website Kotaku, in which current and former employees described a workplace rife with sexist behavior. The suit laid out allegations that Riot fostered a “men-first” “bro culture,” where harassment and inappropriate behavior such as “crotch-grabbing, phantom humping, and sending unsolicited and unwelcome pictures of male genitalia” and managers circulating a “hot girl list,” ranking female employees by attractiveness, went unchecked.

The suit also alleged that outspoken female employees faced retaliation from Riot, including “denied promotions, refusals to provide increased compensation or equal pay, demotions, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, losses of benefits, suspensions, terminations, and other adverse employment actions.”

Two employees also filed individual wrongful termination and sexual harassment suits against the company. In response to the scandal, Riot committed to a series of internal initiatives to add more women to its leadership, close wage gaps, and change its company culture.

While more women are getting involved in the e-sports industry, it is still a harsh industry to be in; not all companies commit to ethical values they publish in their policies or reports.

Hopefully, this will be a lesson to many employers, and all employees, regardless of gender, religion, nationality, will be treated fairly in all aspects.