Riot Games has agreed paid $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in November 2018 by former employees alleging sexism, sexual harassment, and retaliation. The League of Legends publisher will pay only 10 million dollars per preliminary settlement in 2019, but California’s Department of Housing and Fair Employment went to court to block the deal. 10 million dollars is too small, debate body, and women who sue the company could be awarded up to $400 million.
The lawsuit was originally filed by Melanie McCracken and Jess Negrón after Report Kotaku exposed to the “man first” and “brother” company culture of developers. In the report, Kotaku detailed employee experiences within the company, such as “genital grab” cases and senior leaders browsing through lists of employees they’ll sleep with. One former employee who left the company due to gender discrimination said that working for Riot was like “working at a giant brother company.”
Under the terms of the settlement, $80 million will go to the members of the class action, while $20 million will go toward the plaintiffs’ legal fees. All employees and contractors in California who identify as women and have worked at Riot since November 2014 to this day are eligible for the payment. Those who have been with the company longer will receive more cuts than those who are newer. And there are quite a few newer hires – while only about 1,000 workers were eligible for pay in 2019, there are now about 2,300 qualified. In a statement, the developer told washington articles:
“Three years ago, Riot was at the heart of what has become calculus in our industry. We have to face the reality that despite our best intentions, we don’t always live our lives. True to our values As a company we stand at a crossroads; we can deny the shortcomings of our culture, or we can apologize, correct it, and build a good Riot. We have chosen the latter… While we are proud of how far we have come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past. This agreement will properly acknowledge those who have had negative experiences at Riot.”
In addition to paying $100 million, Riot Games also required a third-party expert to conduct a “gender/equality analysis of the total compensation, assignment, and promotion outcomes for California employees.” Riot must also allow for pay transparency and will have to be overseen by a third party, who will keep an eye on things like HR claims and equity payments, for three years. Supervisors will be able to suggest changes to the company that Riot can make.
Genie Harrison, a women’s rights attorney who represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement:
“This is a great day for women at Riot Games – and for women at all tech and video game companies – who deserve a workplace free of harassment and discrimination. We appreciate Riot’s interest and work since 2018 to become more diverse and inclusive, its willingness to take responsibility for its past, and its commitment to justice. Equality and Equality in the Future Together with DFEH and DLSE, the brave women of Riot who carry the torch of justice have achieved an outcome like precedent as a beacon for women. and as a warning that employers must pay better and treat women fairly, or else be held accountable.”
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