Riot Games will pay $100 million to settle a gender-based discrimination class-action suit. Some $80 million of that will go to members of the class-action suit, and the rest to plaintiffs’ legal fees.
“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,” employment and sexual harassment lawyer Genie Harrison, the plaintiffs’ counsel, told The Washington Post. “We appreciate Riot’s introspection and work since 2018 toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive company.”
Back in 2019, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) announced an investigation into pay disparity at Riot Games. That followed a group of current and former employees suing the company over violations of California’s Equal Pay Act. Riot Games attempted to settle the suit for $10 million, only for DFEH to step in and demand a higher settlement; some 2,300 workers are eligible for a portion of the $80 million.
In 2018, gaming website Kotaku released a wide-ranging investigation in which dozens of employees described a sexist culture rampant at Riot Games. “Women currently and formerly employed by Riot say they have been passed up for promotions that men received, repeatedly questioned about their gamer credibility, hit on often, regularly insulted or talked over in meetings and, in general, systematically disadvantaged by cultural ideas of what an ideal Riot employee looks and acts like,” the report mentioned. Riot Games subsequently pledged to change its corporate behavior.
Throughout the video-game industry, companies are taking a hard look at their diversity and corporate culture. For example, Activision Blizzard COO Daniel Alegre recently said his company’s employee diversity is “wholly inadequate”(roughly a quarter of its workforce self-identifies as women, and 36 percent as the member of an underrepresented ethnic group). DFEH is also investigating the company over employees’ claims of discriminatory hiring practices and an abusive culture. How long will it take for things to truly change?