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Riot Games Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit With $100 Million Payout

by John Carson on Dec 28, 2021 at 11:50 AM

According to a report from The Washington Post, Riot Games is settling a long-running gender-based discrimination class-action lawsuit to the tune of $100 million. More specifically, $80 million will go to members of the class-action suit, with the remaining $20 million covering legal fees for the plaintiffs. 

According to The Washington Post's Shannon Liao, "All current and former California employees and contractors who identify as women and worked at Riot Games between November 2014 and present day qualify for a payout." With the number of eligible participants counting upwards of 2,300 women, those who have a longer tenure with the company or were employed by Riot earlier are subject to receiving a larger claim of the payout.

This settlement agreement was reached with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), and several private Plaintiffs, originally resulting from McCracken vs Riot Games lawsuit brought in 2018. In the lawsuit, former employees argued that the League of Legends developer's work culture is deeply misogynistic. This includes discriminating against women in the workplace and refusing to hire women the company didn't consider "core gamers." Originally, this suit was to be settled in 2019 for one-tenth of the amount, which we had reported on at that time. California's Department of Fair Housing and Employment stepped in to deny that amount which led to the payout agreed to today.

Riot provided a statement to Game Informer regarding the settlement. The company had this to say: 

"Three years ago, Riot was at the heart of what became a reckoning in our industry. We had to face the fact that despite our best intentions, we hadn’t 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, correct course, and build a better Riot. We chose the latter. We’re incredibly grateful to every Rioter who has worked to create a culture where inclusivity is the norm, where we’re deeply committed to fairness and equality, and where embracing diversity fuels creativity and innovation.

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 and demonstrates our desire to lead by example in bringing more accountability and equality to the games industry."

On top of that, we received statements from the plaintiffs' representatives at Genie Harrison Law Firm and JML Law. "This is a great day for the women of Riot Games – and for women at all video game and tech companies – who deserve a workplace that is free of harassment and discrimination. We appreciate Riot’s introspection and work since 2018 toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive company, its willingness to take responsibility for its past, and its commitment to continued fairness and equality in the future,” said Genie Harrison. Joseph M. Lovretovich of JML Law added, "We hope women everywhere take note and demand the fair pay and treatment to which they are entitled under the law.”

Other changes are being implemented to Riot's workplace culture, including better throughlines for contractors or temp workers to become fully employed by the company and better payscale transparency for potential new hires to name a couple. Additionally, a press release provided to Game Informer by Riot states, "Riot has also committed to having its internal reporting and pay equity processes monitored by a third party jointly approved by Riot and the DFEH for three years."

It should be noted that while a settlement has been reached, there is still another hearing needed to finalize its approval in the coming months. For the full story on what started this lawsuit, check out Kotaku's exposé on the matter from 2018.

Update 12/28/21 - 11:40 a.m.: We've updated this story to include statements from Riot Games and the plaintiffs' representation.