Riot Games settles gender discrimination lawsuit for $10 million

Olivia R. December 3, 2019

Riot Game's sexual discrimination lawsuit has finally come to an end, and it seems that female employees have come out on top. 

Every woman employed by the company over the last five years will recieve a portion of a $10 million proposed settlement, one of the largest for a gender discrimination suit in California's history. The amount the female employees receive will be determined by "their tenure, length, and status" at Riot Games. 

According to the plaintiffs' lawyer, Ryan Saba, the discrepancy between men and women's salaries at the company is one of the major reasons for the millions owed to female employees. The sex discrimination lawsuit also focused on the game publisher's "bro culture," which included sexually harassing female employees and acting inappropriately at work. 

Women working at Riot Games came forward last year with harrowing stories of their experiences with male coworkers, often those in senior positions at the company. This included female mployees having their bottoms slapped at work-related events and being referred to as "hos" while working on internal projects. 

"Riot tells women to be brave and come forward. For what, though? For their male coworkers to snicker behind their backs and diminish their suffering? What kind of justice is that?" former Riot artist Katie De Sousa asked on her Tumblr post that outlined sexism she witnessed while working there. 

Riot responds to sexual discrimination allegations

Ater some initial silence, Riot Games came forward to address the accusations from former employees. They claimed they were changing the company's culture and hired the company's first chief diversity officer. But many in the gaming community pointed out that a lot of the offenders were still employed at Riot Games, having faced few if any consequences for harassing and suppressing female employees. 

Rioters staged a walk out when the company declared that it would prevent two former employees from taking legal action after they filed lawsuits for gender discrimination, citing arbitration clauses. At the time, Saba called the actions a way to "silence the voices of individuals who speak out against such misconduct." 

Now that Riot has settled the lawsuit with $10 million to current and former female employees, Saba stated that the company is "serious about changing the culture at the company." 

Riot also spoke out about the settlement on their own blog post, calling it "an important step in our journey." 

"Some Rioters have had experiences that did not live up to our values or culture. In addition, we’ve encountered considerable fatigue among Rioters, who have been drained by constant engagement with the internal and external dialogues emerging from these lawsuits and recurring media cycles," Riot Games said. 

While the company believed they had a "strong position" to litigate, they realized that it wouldn't have been the "ideal outcome" for the company and its employees. Instead, they "chose to pivot" and pursued actions that demonstrated their committment to "owning our past" and "healing the company."

The press release can be read here.