Riot Games will pay $10 million to settle its ‘bro culture’ gender discrimination lawsuit

    
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To most people, that's actual money.

Back in August, the LA Times reported that Riot Games had agreed to settle the class-action discrimination lawsuit lodged against it. The suit had alleged that Riot’s “bro culture” encouraged harassment in the form of “crotch-grabbing, phantom humping, and sending unsolicited and unwelcome pictures of male genitalia” and bosses running “hot girl” lists. Complaints by female employees were allegedly met with “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.” And all of it followed the 2018 Kotaku exposé that demonstrated just how deep the sexual harassment and sexual discrimination problems really ran inside the company. (It was pretty deep.)

The terms of the proposed settlement have now been disclosed. Some of the women who worked at Riot Games between November 14th and now will apparently be eligible for part of a $10 million settlement from the developer. That’s a substantial chunk of money, with eligible women receiving different amounts depending on the length of their employment and their full-time or part-time status.

But it’s important to note the equally significant addition within the settlement laying out specific policies that Riot will take in the future to address these gender discrimination charges before they result in a multi-million-dollar lawsuit.

“The settlement filing also lays out a number of 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 a number of employee groups empowered to track the company’s progress on these fronts.”

Some of these measures have already been taken, though whether they’ve been effective is another story, especially since this was the kind of thing that was still going on four months after the spotlight was on the studio.

It’s worth noting, of course, that Riot Games posted revenues in excess of $1 billion for 2018 on the back of League of Legends, which means that a $10 million expenditure doesn’t exactly break the bank. It’s also worth noting that it took an exposé, widespread mainstream press coverage, a lawsuit, an employee walkout, and an investigation from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to get this far. So the settlement is definitely a good thing, but perhaps not a complete and unqualified victory. Especially for women forced out in the past who won’t see a dime in compensation.

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PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Would Riot have agreed to the settlement if they weren’t blatantly retaliating or harassing against the female devs?

I feel like Riot would have won this case if they just displayed a little common sense like not being overtly sexist or just simply ignoring the female devs complaints instead of punishing and retaliating against them.

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Castagere Shaikura

There was this video of some dev saying that the video game industry was the last industry where white males are in control. That really shocked me that he felt comfortable just saying it out loud like that.

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Anton Mochalin

I work in IT industry and white males are in control there as well. Moreover it’s quite impossible to change that because it uses all talent it can (there’s shortage of programmers, analysts, project managers) bringing people from all over the world to work on projects and people get promoted based on their skill and education. And better education means it’s easier to get skill (you’re more likely to get hired and get opportunities to learn when you have better education like English language knowledge etc) and better education in the world is where white males are.

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Bruno Brito

and better education in the world is where white males are.

I would like you to go in-depth about this specific line. Please, explain it to me.

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Anton Mochalin

Several years ago I taught Web UI software development to a small group of students of Moscow Aviation Institute which is one of maybe 50 best technological universities in Eastern Europe. Everyone in the group were white males – and 70-80% of the students of the university are white males. If you just check where 200-300 best universities in the world are many of them will be in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada where “white” people live. We also know that even in US “white” people have much better access to education due to the difference in family income between “white” and everyone else. And in so many countries – including Europe – getting a technical / natural sciences education is perceived to be more “natural” for men than for women. So white men simply have much better probability to get very good education (for example in one of 200 best universities in the world) than anyone else.

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Greaterdivinity

Good games journalism can have real world impact! This is a fantastic development and a credit to the great work Cecilia did in reporting this. Glad to hear it.

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Bryan Correll

From a Riot internal memo:

I hope you broads are happy. Now get those sweet asses back to work.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “bros” there really did pass something like this around between themselves as a joke email after this stuff (not actually letting the female workers see it). I guess that’s a little better than before when they would have let the female workers see it too and not care, but not that much.

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TherecDaMage .

So let’s see here:

The exec who was a huge instigator of this culture is still working at the company.

The fine levied against the company is basically a slap on the wrist, one they can easily pay for by releasing a new skin for purchase with their next update.

Most consumers have moved on from/forgotten about the scandal, continue to support Riot and League of Legends, and are excited about the amazing new titles that were just announced a month ago.

Yeah…no lesson was learned here.

Hopefully the victims are at least happy with their compensation.

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Toy Clown

It’s a bittersweet justice for many of the victims that won’t get severance due to just wanting out and away from the behaviors. But I think the real winner here is that it went public and it shows there is a huge problem anywhere “bro culture” is settled in. In the real world, it’s largely hidden in locker rooms and modern men are waking up to just how bad the behavior is.

But online? It’s so prevalent. Not just in dev teams and male-dominated working environments in the gaming industry, but also in playerbases of most MMOs and team-player games. What makes it worse is when I see women degrade themselves in order to “belong” to the culture when they get ragged on.

Lots of respect for the women who stand strong on their integrity and do something about it.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

And then men too! Several men came forward in the course of all of this. IIRC, the victims of the exec who got away with grabbing balls and farting in faces were mostly dudes.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Love the smell of napalm in the morning. Remember when Riot said they were upstanding employers and there was nothing to see here?

Considering there were close to 1000 female employees, this $10 million isn’t much.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

did the men who did this have to pay out as well? this is like only punishing the parents of a child who did wrong. the child will learn nothing if not disciplined.

to be crystal fricking clear, the dudes that work at riot are children.

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Nathan Aldana

riot games pays out an insignificant amount of cash, in b4 riot fanboyss now act angry at anyone not satisfied.

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dreamer

A pittance. At least the lawyers are getting well padded. /s