Former Riot Games staffer accuses CEO Nicolo Laurent of sexual harassment in new lawsuit

    
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Another day, another round of bro culture at Riot Games. The latest episode has gone even further up the chain of command, as former executive assistant Sharon O’Donnell says she was fired from Riot last summer after enduring – and reporting to human resources – sexist language and sexual advances from no less than Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent.

Vice has a rundown of the allegations; Laurent is accused of everything from telling female subordinates to deal with COVID stress by having children to “telling Plaintiff she should ‘cum’ over to his house while his wife was away thereby implying they should have sex.” The complaint also alleges that Riot violated California labor laws in regard to O’Donnell’s schedule and pay; the wrongful termination suit seeks lost wages and damages in compensation.

According to Daily Esports, Riot has formed a “special committee of [its] Board of Directors” to oversee the probe alongside an outside law firm, since it involved a top executive. However, in the same breath, it also insisted that O’Donnell was “dismissed from the company over seven months ago based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people,” so it’s not immediately clear what the internal “investigation” will entail.

As readers will know, we’ve been covering the sexism and discrimination complaints against Riot Games since 2018, when Kotaku’s expose of workplace conditions triggered an employee walkout, multiple lawsuits, and a story about how a VP who repeatedly grabbed subordinates’ balls was given a slap on the wrist, which I aim to keep mentioning in every piece to note that the depravity affected people of all genders. Last year, the $10M class-action settlement proposal was withdrawn by the plaintiffs at the urging of the California DFEH and DLSE and brought back to court, but last month the judge returned everyone to arbitration – with the exception of one plaintiff who wasn’t under an arbitration clause and was given leave to fight the class-action for herself and everyone else on her own. Likewise, the DFEH and DLSE have asserted that its separate class-action is not affected by Riot’s arbitration clauses and will proceed as planned.

Source: Vice, Daily Esports, Kotaku, Unicourt. Thanks, GreaterDivinity and Cursedseishi.
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PepinoCantador

deal with COVID stress by having children

wat

I know I’m analyzing the reasoning of a sociopath, but his idea for dealing with stress from a pandemic is to have a child that you can worry about getting COVID, in addition to yourself?

I hope he doesn’t have children, but reality is usually the opposite.

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Bruno Brito

I think, and i’m going out on a limb here, since i can’t really fathom what a rich sociopathic idiot reasons, that he’s either 1- telling his worker to have sex to deal with stress, 2- get maternal leave to deal with stress by having a child, or 3-, what you said.

Any of these are absolutely not worth unpacking and i don’t know why i wasted my time trying to.

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cursedseishi

It’s definitely a none-too-subtle way of telling his female employees to have sex. It’s not nearly as crass (I suppose) as simply telling them ‘go *#$% a lot and deal with it’, but it’s also just… greatly more misogynistic in the way it reads to me, so it also just seems… worse… than flat out saying have sex ever would come off.

Either way you swing that bat, it’s going to be foul. And it definitely isn’t behavior that should exist at all but…

Well, it’s Riot here. And its a problem anywhere people start to feel like they can control and dictate lives irregardless of position. So it’s… ugh, people.

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Bruno Brito

Give a modicum of power and money to mediocre people and they’ll show you how mediocre they really are.

If there is one thing that makes me less worried about this clownfiesta, is that Nicolo is NOT safe from getting gutted. If Tencent loses one dollar over this shit, they’ll slice him as quickly as possible.

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Greaterdivinity

At this point, I believe literally everything she claims. Riot almost made it a whole quarter into 2021 before another sexual harassment lawsuit/controversy, they had such a strong start.

Seriously, can the leadership and anyone else involved and bring in some people who don’t need to be told that sexual harassment isn’t fine mmmmmmkay.

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Bruno Brito

Since i honestly like hearing your opinion, i’ll just ask, i’m curious.

At what point do you think that Tencent has to start giving a damn about all of this? Because i do have the impression they don’t give a rat’s ass about the corporate culture at Riot, as long as it stays hidden and make them the big bucks.

I find myself thinking that they’ll just slice off the entire upper management and switch it for other people and say “problem fixed”.

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Greaterdivinity

I think your impression is pretty accurate given that Riot still seems spectacularly uninterested in resolving the issues with toxic frat bros harassing people within the studio. If Riot is not eager to handle it, then Tencent doesn’t seem to be pushing them to do so. Though I doubt they’ll axe the leadership wholesale (I assume they could), and even if it didn’t get to the root of the problem it would probably still have benefits at the end of the day.

I don’t know enough about Tencent to have much of an informed opinion, just following their western acquisitions/investments. Without knowing anything about their corporate culture, how their companies in China operate (I have very, very little knowledge of this), etc. Nothing of value to add beyond what you’ve already said.

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Bruno Brito

I don’t know enough about Tencent to have much of an informed opinion

Sounds like what i heard from everyone. People just don’t know what Tencent is, culturally speaking. They’re too hands-off.

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Greaterdivinity

They appear to be hand-off with western companies which is great. But I’m sure there’s plenty to learn about them from their domestic activities in China. IIRC one of the owners has deep ties/is related to high level folks in the CCP or something. I’ve just never been interested enough to dig up much information, my interest in them really only extends as far as their western acquisitions and how those companies continue operating under Tencent ownership (or minority investment in the case of Epic).

I’m sure there are some Tencent experts out there somewhere that could offer some insights.

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Bryan Correll

At what point do you think that Tencent has to start giving a damn about all of this?

When it sufficiently effects them financially. They seem pretty hands-off on controlling their acquisitions as long as the bottom line looks good.

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Bruno Brito

Which is a great way of running things except when these things happen.

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Bryan Correll

I’d post Fry’s ‘shocked’ video, but in Riot’s case that joke is worn out.

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draugris

Ah yes “bro culture”, what the heck does that even mean, incredible dumb phrase.

Maybe people should holster their pitchforks until the lawsuit is over. Thats the place where things like this should be handled, in a court room based on evidence, not on the internet based on rumours. But its so convenient sitting on his ass and canceling somebody with a keyboard, isn’t it.

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Greaterdivinity

Naw, given that Riot’s openly admitted to some of this shit and this fits with a multi-year pattern of Riot executives, specifically dudes, finding it incredibly challenging to act like a normal human being and not a stereotype of a horny college frat bro you see in a National Lampoon movie.

“Canceling” ain’t a thing either dude.

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Bruno Brito

Ah yes “bro culture”, what the heck does that even mean, incredible dumb phrase.

Uh…just because you don’t know it, doesn’t mean we don’t. Like…what?

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Utakata

“According to Polygon, Riot has formed a ‘special committee of [its] Board of Directors’ to oversee the probe alongside an outside law firm, since it involved a top executive.”

Tl,dr: They’re are finding ways to cover their asses.

“However, in the same breath, it also insisted that O’Donnell was ‘dismissed from the company over seven months ago based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people…'”

Tl,dr: It’s always her fault.

“…so it’s not immediately clear what the internal ‘investigation’ will entail.”

Tl,dr: Conveniently nothing.

/le sigh

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IronSalamander8 .

This is a large part of why I’ve avoided Riot Games’ products. They aren’t alone in this behavior of course, but it comes off as so blatant, so pervasive, that I want nothing to do with their products.

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Darthbawl

And the hits just keep on coming.

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Bruno Brito

Laurent is accused of everything from telling female subordinates to deal with COVID stress by having children to “telling Plaintiff she should ‘cum’ over to his house while his wife was away thereby implying they should have sex.”

Jesus Christ.

The sooner we get rid of the myth that the top 1% got there by being competent at their collective jobs, the sooner we’ll improve as a species. There’s a reason why most dictatorships and empires were nepotistical shitshows.

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IronSalamander8 .

Wish I could upvote you more than once. Anyone who has worked in almost any sized company sees people promoted far over their capabilities. This particular example is more egregious than most, but it’s common all over.