We’ve been poking at the dumpster fire inside League of Legends company Riot Games ever since 2018, when Kotaku’s expose of workplace conditions was followed by an employee walkout, multiple lawsuits, and that eternal story about the company VP who repeatedly grabbed subordinates’ balls was given a slap on the wrist, my favorite anecdote for reminding us that sexual harassment and discrimination affects everyone.
Along the way, Riot Games offered a mere $10M settlement to the plaintiffs, but the plaintiffs backed out and added a new attorney, at the urging of California’s DFEH and DLSE, which thought they should receive as much as $400M. That drove the suit back to arbitration, alongside California’s separate enforcement suit against the company; as recently as last summer, these suits were still ongoing, as California had accused Riot Games of retaliating against workers, as well as “equal pay violations, gender/sex discrimination, [and] sexual harassment.”
But now, there’s been a new settlement, as late last night the attorneys for the class-action plaintiffs declared victory: Riot Games has agreed to a $100M settlement “plus substantial systemic changes that will make the game developer’s workplace more equitable for all current and future female employees and applicants.”
“We appreciate Riot’s introspection and work since 2018 toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive company, its willingness to take responsibility for its past, and its commitment to fairness and equality in the future,” counsel Genie Harrison said in the press release. “Along with the DFEH and DLSE, the brave women of Riot who carried the torch of justice have achieved a precedent-setting result that stands as a beacon for other women and as a warning that employers had better pay and treat women fairly, or else be held accountable.”
According to Harrison, Riot agreed to provide pay transparency, efforts toward reducing bias in hiring, third-party gender auditing of “compensation, assignment, and promotion outcomes,” and an additional $18M in funds for “temporary agency contractor recruitment, selection, and hiring opportunities, policy and procedure improvements” and monitoring of that mouthful of words too.
For reference, League of Legends all by itself brought in $1.75B just in 2020 alone. The New York Times notes that the $80M in winnings (the other part is reserved for attorney fees) will be distributed to more than 2000 workers, past and present.
Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent, who is himself still being sued personally by the former executive assistant who alleges that he sexually harassed her, told Riot staffers yesterday that the timing of the announcement wasn’t “ideal” but that the “final details of the agreement came together quickly.”