Riot Games, the studio behind the well-established "League of Legends" online battle arena game, has accepted a $100 million settlement regarding a Los Angeles-based class-action lawsuit filed in 2018.
The suit, made in conjunction with several previous female employees of the company, alleged the studio of various workplace discrepancies, main among them being sexual harassment, unequal pay, and myriad degrees of discrimination. These internal workplace issues became a major topic of debate following the mass Kotaku article, which highlighted not merely the issues plaguing Riot but the industry writ large.
Riot Games Former Employees Come Forward
Melanie McCracken and Jess Negron, two former employees under Riot Games, took their issues with their employer's workplace culture to court following the Kotaku piece.
In 2019, Riot Games accepted a $10 million settlement to the aforementioned suit yet was denied the possibility due to California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The DFEH cited the potential for up to $400 million in restitution to the victims, which sent the suit back into litigation.
This new settlement not only calls for the $100 million to be dispersed amongst the victims of the suit but will likewise charge Riot Games with the institution of workplace policy reformations and ground-up diversification. The agreement states the studio must be monitored for up to three years, wherein the workplace standards will be regularly reviewed. Of the $100 million, $80 million will be going straight into plaintiffs' pockets, whereas the remaining $20 million will be utilized to fund their legal fees.
Other Riot Games Victims
Genie Harrison, legal representation of the victims, explained in a Washington Post report published on Monday, Dec. 27, "This is a great day for the women of Riot Games - and for women at all video game and tech companies - who deserve a workplace that is free of harassment and discrimnation."
The so-called "bro culture" and misogynistic workplace conditions have become a major topic of discussion in the gaming industry, specifically centered at some of the biggest studios and publishers on the block.
Ubisoft saw various issues stemming from 2020, with a survey showing 25% of employees experiencing or seeing sexual misconduct in the office. Issues still plague the company internally even into this year. More recently, Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in an ongoing workplace environment dispute with the state of California. It will now be paying its own $18 million in settlement fees.
Riot Games explains in an email delivered to employees on Monday, Dec. 27,
"We want to acknowledge that the timing of this announcement isn't ideal. The final details of the agreement came together quickly, and we wanted you to hear about it from us directly rather than read about it in the news while on break."
CEO of Riot Games, Nicolas Laurent, is also situated in his own discrimination suit. Sharon O'Donnell, the CEO's prior executive assistance, filed a lengthy harassment suit in January 2021, alleging the Riot Games head of sexual advances and another grotesque verbiage. This suit, however, has gone into arbitration with no substantial evidence found of any wrongdoing.
With the settlement signed and the ink still drying, the $100 million agreement still awaits final approval via a judge and hearing. No date has yet been made.