Illustrations by Alex Castro / The Verge
Riot Games has struck a $100 million settlement deal in a discrimination and harassment lawsuit brought by female employees. The League of Legends and Valorant publisher will pay at least $80 million to members of the settlement class and around $20 million in legal fees, and it will agree to workplace changes that include greater pay transparency and three years of third-party monitoring.
The settlement covers a 2018 class action lawsuit filed by current and former Riot employees in the wake of a Kotaku report detailing systemic sexism and unfair treatment. The suit described an environment where male employees made derogatory sexual comments about female colleagues and passed them over for promotion, creating a company-wide “unwritten policy and practice of preferring men to women in the hiring, promotion, and compensation of its employees.”
Riot agreed to a $10 million settlement in 2019, but the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) blocked the agreement, saying women at the company could be entitled to up to $400 million. The DFEH endorsed the latest settlement in a press release.
According to the DFEH, the suit covers approximately 1,065 female employees and 1,300 female contractors at Riot. Women who worked for Riot in either capacity since November of 2014 may be eligible for damages if a court approves the settlement. In a letter obtained by The Washington Post, Riot leadership told employees that “the final details of the agreement came together quickly,” resulting in an unexpected end-of-year announcement.
“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 discrimination,” said attorney Genie Harrison, who began representing the plaintiffs in 2020. “We appreciate Riot’s introspection and work since 2018 toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive company, its willingness to take responsibility for its past, and its commitment to fairness and equality in the future.”
The new Riot settlement comes shortly after a court stopped the DFEH from intervening in a settlement over similar gender discrimination claims at games company Activision Blizzard. It doesn’t cover a separate 2021 complaint alleging that Riot’s CEO Nicolo Laurent harassed a former employee — a claim that Riot denied in March after conducting an internal investigation.
In a statement, Riot Games said it hoped the settlement “properly acknowledges those who had negative experiences at Riot and demonstrates our desire to lead by example in bringing more accountability and equality to the games industry.”