Riot Games, a famous video game maker who made one of the most popular games in the world like League of Legends and Valorant, agreed to pay $100 million on Monday evening to clear the gender discrimination case with more than 2,000 current and former female employees.
The lawsuit was filed in 2018 and was originally for a $10 million settlement, but in 2020 two employment agencies in California took a step forward to intervene to block the settlement, arguing that the women could be entitled to over $400 million. The state was already investigating the company after the reports of discrimination, unequal pay, sexual harassment, and retaliation against women.
The company was originally set to pay $10 million to its female employees until California fought successfully for more money.
More than 1,000 full-time employees and 1,300 contractors from November 2014 would split $80 million with another $20 million going to lawyers fees and other costs. Riot also agreed to fund a diversity and inclusion program and has given consent to a three-year third-party analysis of gender equity in employee pay and job assignments, as well as to an audit of workplace investigations.
If the settlement is approved by the Lost Angeles Superior Court, it will send a message that “All industries in California, including the gaming industry, must provide equal pay and workplaces free from discrimination and harassment,” Kevin Kish, the director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has given the statement.
The company said, “We believe this is the right thing to do, for both the company and those whose experiences at Riot fell short of our standards and values.” Riot also said that it had improved its company culture over the past three years and that it hopes that it “demonstrates our desire to lead by example in our industry.”
Riot is one of the world’s most prominent gaming publishers which is owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent. With League of Legends, the game made nearly $2 billion last year, according to the research firm SuperData, which is the gaming research division at Nielsen.
Similarly, to many other gaming publishers, including ‘Ubisoft’ and ‘Activision Blizzard’, Riot had also been dealing with these difficult situations like frequent accusations of harassment and a work environment as sexist and toxic.
In 2021, Riot’s chief executive Nicolo Laurent was sued over because of sexually harassing his former executive assistant. That case is still pending. The company board of directors formed a committee and said if no evidence is found against Mr. Laurent.
In an email to the company’s employees viewed by ‘The New York Times, Mr. Laurent wrote that the timing “isn’t ideal” but the “final details of the agreement came together quickly.” He also said that he hoped that “the settlement is symbolized a moment where we move forward as a united company.”
I hope this case serves as an example for other studios and an inspiration for women in the industry at large,” one plaintiff, Jess Negron, said in a statement issued through a lawyer. “Women in gaming do not have to suffer inequity and harassment in silence change is possible.”
The proposed settlement on Monday was hailed as a win for women at Riot.