Riot Games is paying $100 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit.
Riot Games recently agreed to fork over $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed back in 2018 over claims of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. The suit was filed by a handful of former employees. Based on a 2019 preliminary settlement, the company was only going to pay $10 million. However, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing argued the settlement was too small and said the plaintiffs could be entitled to up to $400 million. In the end, $100 million was the final settlement agreement amount.
The suit was filed in November 2018 by Melanie McCracken and Jess Negrón. According to them, the culture at Riot Games was very ‘men-first.’ The women detailed their experiences working for the company in the suit, which included accounts of “genital grabbing…and senior leaders passing around lists of employees they would sleep with.” One former employee said “working for Riot was like working at a giant fraternity.”
According to details of the settlement agreement, $80 million will be awarded to the members of the class-action suit, while the other $20 million will cover their legal fees. It’s estimated that about 2,300 current and former employees qualify for a chunk of the payout.
While commenting on the agreement, a spokesperson for the company said:
“Three years ago, Riot was at the heart of what became a reckoning in our industry. We had to face the fact that despite our best intentions, we hadn’t always lived up to our values. As a company we stood at a crossroads; we could deny the shortcomings of our culture, or we could apologize, correct course, and build a better Riot. We chose the latter…While we’re proud of how far we’ve come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past. We hope that this settlement properly acknowledges those who had negative experiences at Riot.”
In addition to forking over $100 million, Riot Games must also hire a third-party expert to “conduct sex/gender equity analysis of total compensation, assignment and promotion outcomes for California employees.” Additionally, a third party will also monitor the company for three years to watch for HR complaints.
Genie Harrison is the women’s rights attorney who represented the plaintiffs. When asked about the settlement agreement, she said:
“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. 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. Along with the DFEH and DLSE, the brave women of Riot who carried the torch of justice have achieved a precedent-setting result that stands as a beacon for other women and as a warning that employers had better pay and treat women fairly, or else be held accountable.”