Allow us to recount events for a moment: In 2018, a Kotaku expose blew the lid off of a deeply alarming “bro culture” work environment that normalized a variety of acts of sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. This led to, among other things, a promise of a “cultural revolution” at Riot which fell miserably short, an employee protest and walkout, and a sexual discrimination lawsuit that Riot tried to force into private arbitration (though it would later allow other employees to opt out), and a gender discrimination investigation by California.
It all ultimately led to the class action lawsuit filed by women employees at Riot, which was then settled back in August to the tune of $10 million. However, a new filing from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) says that the plaintiffs in that suit should be entitled to over $400 million in back pay based on the wage disparity between men and women at Riot Games.
The document filed by the DFEH on January 8th additionally claimed that the non-monetary terms of the settlement were woefully inadequate, claiming the terms introduced “no enforceable changes to employment policies, at a company alleged to be rife with sexism.” It also criticized the process of the settlement and claimed that the plaintiffs’ lawyers did not do enough discovery to find a fair dollar amount for their clients and made a variety of procedural mistakes. Both Riot Games and Rosen Saba, the firm that represented the plaintiffs, have filed rebuttals to the DFEH objections and will offer more detailed dissections of the accusations later in the week.
This filing by the DFEH is on top of another filing made in late December by California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), which requested to officially intervene in the case, citing similar arguments that the plaintiffs’ lawyers did not perform their due diligence for their clients and let Riot off the hook for labor law violations in the settlement agreement.
The case moves on to two dates: January 31st is when the court will decide whether or not to grant the DLSE’s request, which could allow the agency to open its own litigation against Riot Games, and February 3rd is when the court will decide whether to heed the DFEH objections or push forward with the agreed upon $10 million. In short, this whole matter is not quite done.