Riot settles gender discrimination lawsuit for $100 million

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Industry titan Riot Games has settled its gender discrimination class-action lawsuit with California state agencies for a total of $100 million. The League of Legends publisher will pay $80 members to members of the class-action suit, while $20 million will go to the plaintiffs’ legal fees.

The lawsuit started in 2018 after an expose by Kotaku outlined a “culture of sexism” at Riot. The suit was set to be settled in 2019 for $10 million, but California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) blocked the agreement by filing an argument with the court that the collective victims should be entitled to as much as $400 million. Both sides of the lawsuit have signed the agreement, which will now go to a judge for approval.

The class eligible for a payout includes approximately 1,065 women employees and 1,300 women contract workers since November 2014. Those who have worked with the company longer are entitled to a larger payout. Under the settlement, Riot is also obligated to implement workplace reforms, allow third-party analysis of its pay structures, hiring, and promotion practices, and allow independent monitoring of sexual harassment and retaliation claims at Riot’s California offices.

“This historic agreement reflects California’s commitment to strategic and effective government enforcement of the State’s robust equal-pay, anti-discrimination, and antiharassment laws,” said DFEH director Kevin Kish in a statement posted Monday night. Kish also stated that the settlement will “send the message that all industries in California, including the gaming industry, must provide equal pay and workplaces free from discrimination and harassment.”

The DFEH is also involved in the ongoing lawsuit against Blizzard Entertainment. 

An internal email sent to Riot employees after the settlement announcement was obtained by the Washington Post. In that email, five of the company’s executives addressed the settlement, saying that “The final details of the agreement came together quickly, and we wanted you to hear about it from us directly rather than read about it in the news while on break.”

In a statement to press, Riot said that “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.”

This settlement deals exclusively with the 2018 lawsuit. It doesn’t cover the ongoing harassment suit against Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent filed by his former executive assistant in January of this year.

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