Two women affiliated with Riot Games have sued the studio for alleged violations of California equal pay, sexual harassment and discrimination statutes.
According to Ars Technica, revelations of possible sexism at Riot Games went public in August. A Kotaku article outlined a “culture of sexism” within the company, which is the creator of popular MMORPG League of Legends.
Three weeks after Kotaku’s article went online, Riot issued an apology said it was trying to make amends for its past mistakes.
“We will weave this change into our cultural DNA and leave no room for sexism or misogyny,” Riot said in a statement. “Inclusivity, diversity, respect, and equality are all non-negotiable.”
But Kotaku claims the promise may well be empty. In a September follow-up to its first story, Kotaku said the people who made the “mess” are still there.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday, alleges that there is a “custom and practice” inside the studio that leaves women with lower pay and fewer employment options. Moreover, Riot is accused of “creating, encouraging, and maintaining a work environment that exposes its female employees to discrimination, and retaliation.”
The allegations, as summarized by Ars Technica, include what could be coined passive-aggressive sexism. Women say they were talked down to, objectified and made the butt of crude jokes—jokes that routinely referenced rape, torture and sex.
The proposed class action suit was filed by Melanie McCracken, who’s worked with Riot for over five years. She’s joined in litigation by Jessica Negron, who was with the studio between April of 2015 and April of 2017.
Attorney Ryan Saba says there’s evidence of e-mail chains in which male staff at Riot talked about “what it would be like to ‘penetrate’ female employees” and “phantom humping.”
“These women were denied equal pay and opportunities and were discouraged from speaking out by threats of termination. This lawsuit allows them the opportunity to have their voices heard,” Saba said. “We hope more women have the courage to step forward and speak out against Riot Games. The days of sexually charged, men-first, fraternity-type work environments are over.”
Responding to a comment request from The Verge, Riot said it couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
“While we do not discuss the details of ongoing litigation, we can say that we take every allegation of this nature seriously and investigate them thoroughly. We remain committed to a deep and comprehensive evolution of our culture to ensure Riot is a place where all Rioters thrive,” the company said.
Riot claims that fixing its corporate culture is a “top priority.” While several employees involved in harassment have been fired or otherwise disciplined, The Verge notes that some executives accused of groping and verbal harassment still have the same posts as they did before.
The company behind one of the biggest video games in the world was just slammed with a lawsuit alleging its ‘bro-culture’ created a sexist workplace where women were rated on their ‘hotness,’ told that ‘no doesn’t necessarily mean no,’ and shown unsolicited photos of male genitalia