Riot Games to pay $ 100 million in gender discrimination case

Riot Games, the video game maker behind popular titles like League of Legends and Valorant, said Monday night it had agreed to pay $ 100 million to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit with more than 2,000 employees. current and old.

The class action lawsuit, which was filed in 2018, was initially on track for a $ 10 million settlement. But in early 2020, the women suing Riot changed lawyers and new senior lawyer Genie Harrison determined the amount was not enough.

Two California employment agencies also took the unusual step of opposing the settlement, arguing that women could be entitled to more than $ 400 million. Regardless of the lawsuit, the state had investigated the company after allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, unequal pay and reprisals against women.

“I am very happy that we were able to provide what I believe is a fair settlement,” Ms Harrison said in an interview, adding that she was “honored and proud” to have represented women.

If the settlement is approved by the Los Angeles Superior Court, it will “send the message that all industries in California, including the gaming industry, must provide equal pay and workplaces free from discrimination and harassment.” Kevin Kish, director of the California Fair Employment and Housing Department, said in a statement.

Under the agreement, more than 1,000 full-time employees and 1,300 contractors dating back to November 2014 would share $ 80 million, to which would be added $ 20 million for legal fees and other costs. Riot also agreed to fund a diversity and inclusion program and agreed to a three-year third-party analysis of gender equity in employee compensation and work assignments, as well as an audit. workplace surveys.

“We believe this is the right thing to do, both for the company and for those whose experiences at Riot have fallen short of our standards and values,” the company said in a statement. Riot added that he had improved his corporate culture over the past three years and hoped this “demonstrates our desire to lead by example in our industry.”

Riot, which is owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent, is one of the world’s largest game publishers. Its flagship game League of Legends made nearly $ 2 billion in revenue last year, according to an estimate from research firm SuperData, which was Nielsen’s game research division.

But like many other game publishers, including Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard, Riot has also faced frequent accusations of harassment and a work environment that women have described as sexist and toxic.

This year, Riot chief executive Nicolo Laurent was prosecuted for claiming to sexually harass his former executive assistant. This case is still pending. A committee formed by the company’s board of directors later said it had found no evidence of the claims against Mr. Laurent.

In an e-mail to company employees consulted by The New York Times, sent a few minutes before the settlement was announced, Laurent wrote that the timing “is not ideal” but that “the latest details of the agreement arrived quickly ”. He said he hoped the settlement “symbolizes a time when we move forward as a united enterprise.”

The proposed settlement on Monday was hailed as a victory for women at Riot.

“I hope this case serves as an example for other studios and an inspiration for women in the industry in general,” said plaintiff Jes Negron in a statement released through a attorney. “Women in the game don’t have to endure iniquity and harassment in silence – change is possible.”

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