Riot Games accused of collusion around sexual discrimination trial

Olivia R. February 25, 2020

Two state agencies have accused Riot Games of collusion amidst an ongoing sexual misconduct trial. 

After the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing declared that Riot Games may owe $400 million to women who endured sexual harassment and lower wages, a new legal council has taken over the class action lawsuit against the game developer.

In January, the DFEH stated that 1,000 women working at Riot Games, past and present, are entitled to $400 million, a number much higher than the original $10 million settlement Riot had agreed upon. Riot representatives called the new figure "bogus," stating that the League of Legends developer was bringing the case to court. 

"With respect to the numbers posited by the DFEH, we’ll say again that there is no basis in fact or reason that would justify that level of exposure and we believe that any assertions to the contrary can simply not be made in good faith," Riot representative Joe Hixson told WIN.gg today.

According to Hixson, Riot has acknowledged that "there is work that we needed to do better to live up to our values," but they also have "made it clear" to their employees that they would defend themselves against false claims. 

New legal counsel to bring new monetary figures to Riot

Now, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement have made a case against the settlement. The two agencies stated that the plantiffs' legal representation, Rosen & Saba, mishandled the discrimination lawsuit against Riot Games. They even said that Riot had possibly come to the $10 million after colluding with Rosen & Saba. 

Despite the hearing being pushed back to an unannounced date, Melanie McCracken, Jessica Negron, and Gabriela Downie, all former Riot employees, have found new legal counsel with Genie Harrison, a women's rights attorney. Harrison is a known attorney who recently brought cases to trial against the Weinsten Company. 

Harrison, along with employment lawyer Joseph Lovretovich, are currently looking into expert analysis regarding the sex-based discrimination at Riot Games, hoping to find a settlement figure they deem more appropriate. 

"These brave women spoke out against gender inequality and sexism, and I want to make sure they are fairly compensated," Harrison said. "Our well-qualified statisticians are already analysing pay data. We intend to recover the compensation due to the women of Riot Games and achieve institutional reform, in order to level the playing field for women."

Riot continues to fight in sexual discrimination controversy

According to Hixson, Riot has always been focused on "reaching a resolution that's fair to everyone involved." 

"We understand that the plaintiffs’ new counsel needs adequate time to review the proposed settlement agreement and we respect that. That said, the analysis and discussions which led to the earlier proposed settlement were comprehensive and thorough, and we believe that the proposal was fair and adequate under the circumstances," Hixson said of the orignal $10 million settlement figure. 

Hixson told WIN.gg that Riot is trying to "do the right thing by the plaintiffs," hoping to work collaboratively to reach a resolution that helps both parties move forward together. 

"But it needs to be one that is justified by the underlying facts," Hixson concluded. 

Riot was under fire in 2018 when a former female employee came forward with disturbing stories of sexism and harassment. Since then, Riot Games has attempted to fix their workplace culture with the hiring of a new chief diversity officer, among other moves. Soon after, some employees found the changes inadequet and staged a walkout when they found out Riot had cited forced arbitration in response to former employee's gender discrimination lawsuits. 

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