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

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.

Further reading:

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