Riot Games, the video game developer behind it League of legends, will pay $ 100 million to settle a class action lawsuit on gender discrimination, the company announced Monday. The settlement is 10 times what the company originally agreed to pay.
Riot was originally ordered in 2019 to pay $ 10 million to the thousands of class members when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) stepped in, along with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), to oppose the settlement. The two government agencies instead claimed that Riot should pay up to $ 400 million for its labor violations.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2018 by former Riot employees Melanie McCracken and Jes Negrón following a Kotaku report detailing widespread sexism and gender-based discrimination in the company.
The majority of the settlement – $ 80 million – will go to women who have either currently or previously worked for Riot since November 2014. At least 2,365 are eligible to receive part of the settlement, DFEH said, including contract workers. The rest of the settlement, $ 20 million, will be paid as attorney’s fees and “miscellaneous expenses,” Riot said.
“In the struggle for equality, announcing its truth is the singularity that changes everything,” said former Riot artist Gabriela Downie. “It takes courage to stand up with a loud message of oppression and pain, but the right people hear it and want to help. I am grateful to the other Riot women who stood up with me and to all the Rioters who supported our efforts to achieve equal pay and fair treatment of women. “
In addition to the $ 100 million payout, Riot agreed to “significant systemic changes,” which include a “gender equality analysis,” conducted by an independent expert, of salaries, promotions and assignments for three years. Riot also agreed to set up a $ 6 million fund for each of these three years, for a total of $ 18 million, to fund diversity initiatives and adjust salary for equity.
“I’m so glad we reached this first step towards justice for the women of the Riot Games,” Negrón said. “I hope this case serves as an example for other studies and an inspiration for women in the industry as a whole. Women in games do not have to suffer inequality and harassment in silence – change is possible.”
A Riot representative said in a press release that it hopes to “lead by example in bringing more accountability and equality to the gaming industry.” Here is Rio’s full statement:
Three years ago, Riot was at the heart of what became an account in our industry. We had to face the fact that despite our best intentions, we had not 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, set the course and build a better riot. We chose the latter. We are incredibly grateful to any rebel who has worked to create a culture where inclusivity is the norm, where we are deeply committed to justice and equality, and where the embrace of diversity fosters creativity and innovation.
While we are proud of how far we have come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past. We hope that this settlement correctly recognizes those who had negative experiences at Riot, and demonstrates our desire to lead by example in bringing more accountability and equality to the gaming industry.
Another case of gender discrimination and wrongful termination was brought in 2021 by former Riot director Sharon O’Donnell. In it, O’Donnell claimed that CEO Nicolo Laurent got her fired after she reported him to human resources. This case is ongoing, although Riot disputes the wrongful termination, and has since cleared Laurent of any misconduct.
The video game industry is still in the midst of its “inventory” of sexism and workplace misconduct. Major studios such as Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft and Sony Interactive Entertainment have all been accused of gender and / or race-based discrimination. Activision Blizzard, for its part, faced several lawsuits following its own DFEH investigation. But it’s not just the industry’s biggest players; smaller studies, e.g. Gone home develops Fullbright and Season developer Scavengers Studio, has also faced similar charges.
In the midst of these claims, workers’ solidarity has seen an increase in strikes, strikes, trade unions and other actions.
“To the rest of our industry, keep talking up and keep pushing for accountability,” Riot employee Gina Cruz Rivera said in a statement through attorneys. “Your voice matters, and together we can make this industry safer and more inclusive for all.”