Riot Games has agreed to pay $10 million to its former and current female employees who alleged they’d been subjected to gender discrimination and sexual harassment. The company, which became emblematic of a larger problem within the industry, says this is part of its commitment to fix its culture.
According to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported on the terms of the settlement, each of the roughly 1,000 female-identifying employees who have worked at Riot within the last five years will be entitled to a portion of the $10 million. The amount will vary depending on the length of employment and whether they were full-time or contract workers.
The problems at Riot were uncovered in a damning expose by Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Being the company behind esports dynasty League of Legends, Riot is a massive powerhouse in the industry. Yet apparently female employees were regularly expected to put up with an old boy’s club attitude and sexual harassment from their male colleagues. Women who complained were summarily shouted down or fired.
These women filed the lawsuit in November 2018, alleging Riot had violated the California Equal Pay act by paying them less than their male counterparts. Sexual harassment and discrimination in the industry has become something of a recurring story in the last few years. Many individual revelations took place in the indie sphere, but the Riot stories proved it was endemic in the larger companies too.
Riot Games has since attempted to repair the damage by changing its internal policies with regards to harassment, and has hired a diversity officer, Angela Roseboro, to help foster “a more inclusive culture.” Riot said in a statement to the LA Times regarding the settlement: “[It is] another important step forward, and demonstrates our commitment to living up to our values and to making Riot an inclusive environment for the industry’s best talent.”
It’s not been a perfect change so far. Riot Games has said it’s keeping its policy of forced arbitration — meaning that employees are forced to settle their disputes within the company, rather than taking it through the legal system — until after this particular lawsuit was settled, at which point it’ll offer employees the choice to opt out. This was in spite of the fact that employees at three of the company’s studios staged a walk-out in protest of forced arbitration, saying it shouldn’t be in their contracts in the first place.
The settlement still needs to be approved by the courts.