Riot Games Agrees to Pay $100 Million in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

In 2018, a gender discrimination lawsuit was put forward against Riot Games, signifying perhaps the start of an industry-wide movement that unearthed decades of malpractice and workplace harassment at studios such as Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft.

A separate harassment and discrimination lawsuit was filed against Riot Games on January 7 that implicated Nicolas Laurent, the company's chief executive officer. Sued by a former executive assistant, it alleged that Riot's CEO, among general misconduct, performed untoward sexual advances towards the filer of the suit. After an investigation made by a third party hired by Riot Games found no evidence of wrongdoing, Nicolas Laurent has remained firmly enthrenched in his position at the company.

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Today, the 2018 lawsuit has finally reached a settlement, a $100 million payout to the lawyers and the eligible victims of the gender discrimination suit. Among the 2,300 eligible workers of both former and current employees at Riot Games, those who have worked in the company for a longer amount of time will receive a larger allocation of funds from the settlement, with $20 million of the total sum being put towards the plaintiffs' legal fees.

Initially, Riot Games agreed to settle the suit for $10 million in 2019, but the agreement was blocked by the intervention of California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing, who argued that the victims of Riot Games should be entitled to as much as $400 million.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the settlement isn't in the $100 million payout, but rather that Riot Games agreed to certain workplace policy reforms. Most notably, these reforms will entail greater transparency concerning pay scales for job applicants, as well as agreeing to have Riot Games be monitored by a third party for a period of three years. This party would need to be approved by both Riot Games and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and would be in charge of overseeing human resource complaints, ensuring that they are handled properly, and that the employees of the company, regardless of their gender, are being paid fairly.

In the event that the third party discovers further malpractice by Riot Games or shortcomings in its attempt to improve its workplace culture, the party would provide suggestions to the company while serving in its advisory role, with the judge presiding over the case being empowered to enforce the suggested changes if necessary.

With the booming success of Netflix's Arcane adaptation bringing newfound attention to League of Legends, the commercial future of Riot Games seems promising. Whether or not it sheds the mistakes of its troubling past and emerges as an upstanding company in the gaming industry still remains to be seen.

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