Riot Games COO suspended for workplace harassment

Milo W. December 19, 2018

Riot Games COO Scott Gelb has received a two-month unpaid suspension following an investigation into allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior.

Gelb has become a controversial figure at Riot Games over the past few months. Several former and current Riot employees have recently alleged that Gelb has repeatedly farted on, humped, and and appropriately touched fellow employees for comedic effect.

An investigation by a third-party law firm began earlier this year to examine these and other accusations of misconduct. After receiving the results of the investigation, Riot Games has decided to suspend the company’s COO for two months without pay and is requiring him to undergo additional training before returning.

The investigation began following the publication of a detailed investigative report by Kotaku that covered the alleged culture of sexism and gender discrimination at Riot Games. Since that report, multiple women who work or have previously worked at Riot Games have come forward with their own experiences of inequity and harassment in the workplace.

Riot eventually responded with an official statement in which the company issued an apology and promised to take action against liable individuals.

“No one and nothing is sacred. We are prepared to make big changes and have begun taking action against specific cases, including removal of Rioters,” Riot Games said.

CEO Nicolo Laurent sent out an email to Riot employees following Gelb’s suspension. Laurent stated that this sort of behavior was unacceptable, but also went on to express that many of the allegations against the COO were false. Laurent ended the email with a statement supporting Gelb during this two-month period and encouraging other Rioters to do the same.

“I will root for him, will support him through this journey, and will leverage him as a great leader when he returns next year. I hope you will join me,” Laurent said.

Reaction to the announcement, particularly given Laurent’s emphasis on supporting Gelb in spite of the accusations and their apparent veracity, has been mixed at best.

Riot Games is currently facing a lawsuit filed by one current and one former employee. The plaintiffs are suing on grounds of discrimination, harassment, and violation of the California Equal Pay Act.

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