In a recent post from League of Legends developer Riot Games, the company addressed the lawsuits looming over its head. Riot has been quiet regarding the legal action since responding to a walkout staged by employees late April. The California-based company was unwilling to negotiate as of a statement in May. An article from Kotaku posted last year sparked the concerns among employees regarding sexism in the company. “Lacy,” an employee at Riot Games, came forward with allegations of unfair treatment. Her allegations included unsolicited remarks on her appearance as well as refusing to consider ideas proposed by female employees.
Kotaku reached out to over two dozen other employees, who shared accounts similar to Lacy’s. In addition to their reports, many told Kotaku that Riot forced them to sign non-disparagement agreements after terminating employment. This, along with forced-arbitration clauses, is fairly standard practice for most industries. With Riot, however, this forced-arbitration included cases of sexual harassment. According to Bloomberg, forced-arbitration overwhelmingly favors the company over the individual and despite promises to drop the forced-arbitration for new employees after the current litigation, Riot’s legal battles have prevented it from taking many actions the company claims, while they have taken some internal steps.
Since Kotaku broke the story last May, five women came forward to sue Riot Games for gender-based discrimination. Both male and female employees have also claimed to have received unsolicited images of male genitalia on their devices. A common thread in reports included comments on the “bro culture” surrounding the staff at Riot.
Riot’s post determined that their internal investigators found no such evidence of systemic sexual harassment or gender discrimination. The company said that they can “confidently state that gender discrimination (in pay or promotion), sexual harassment, and retaliation are not systemic issues at Riot.”
Representing the plaintiffs, attorney Ryan Saba (Rosen Saba, LLP) released this statement regarding the preliminary agreement:
This is a very strong settlement agreement that provides meaningful and fair value to class members for their experiences at Riot Games. This is a clear indication that Riot is dedicated to making progress in evolving its culture and employment practices. A number of significant changes to the corporate culture have been made, including increased transparency and industry-leading diversity and inclusion programs. The many Riot employees who spoke up, including the plaintiffs, significantly helped to change the culture at Riot.
Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games, also commented on the settlement:
We are grateful for every Rioter who has come forward with their concerns and believe this resolution is fair for everyone involved. With this agreement, we are honoring our commitment to find the best and most expedient way for all Rioters, and Riot, to move forward and heal. Over the past year, we’ve made substantial progress toward evolving our culture and will continue to pursue this work as we strive to be the most inclusive company in gaming.
As this is merely a preliminary agreement, details are still developing. Riot and the plaintiffs must first seek court approval for the settlement, then file it. This legal process may take time to resolve. As always, TechRaptor will continue to observe and keep readers informed as the situation changes.