Riot Games Hit with Discrimination Class Action Over Allegedly Hostile 'Bro Culture,' Gender-Based Pay Disparities [UPDATE]
Last Updated on February 27, 2020
McCracken et al. v. Riot Games, Inc.
Filed: November 6, 2018 ◆§ 18stcv03957
Two women allege the "bro culture" at "League of Legends" maker Riot Games has denied female employees equal pay and opportunities, and is rife with sexual harassment.
Update – Settlement Withdrawn
The $10 million proposed settlement detailed on this page has been withdrawn without prejudice. The plaintiffs, who have retained new legal counsel, submitted their notice of the withdrawal to the court on February 10, 2020, noting that while Riot Games has been cooperative, the new attorneys require additional time to review and analyze a possible deal with the video game developer.
In a joint statement submitted on February 11, the parties informed the court that the plaintiffs and Riot Games are “committed to an ongoing dialogue” regarding the settlement and remain in discussions with each other.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote that in the months after news of the former settlement first surfaced last year, the plaintiffs retained new representation due to “alleged mistakes and improprieties by prior counsel.” Through a spokesperson, Riot Games said the company and its counsel have “[f]rom the beginning… approached these conversations with empathy in order to reach a resolution which we believe is fair for everyone involved.” Last week, Riot said, “We understand that the plaintiffs’ new counsel needs adequate time to review the proposed settlement agreement and we respect that.”
Update – December 13, 2019 – Riot Games to Pay $10 Million Proposed Settlement
After an August 23 post on Riot Games’ website announced the company would settle the gender discrimination class action detailed on this page, a motion submitted in Los Angeles County Court on November 27 has set the proposed deal at $10,000,000. The settlement tentatively covers all female Riot Games employees in California who worked for the company at any time between November 2014 and the date the agreement receives preliminary approval.
According to the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary settlement approval, the deal “strikes a balance between the risks of continued litigation and fair compensation to all class members.” The court filing states that no class member, including those who worked for Riot as contractors, will receive less than $500 from the settlement, and most will receive “at least $5,000.” Payouts for class members will depend upon the length of time an individual worked for Riot Games.
The lawsuit’s two lead plaintiffs are set to receive $10,000 each should the settlement receive final approval.
Update – August 27, 2019 – Lawsuit Settled
According to a post on the Riot Games website, the lawsuit detailed on this page has been settled through mediation.
“While we believed that we had a strong position to litigate, we realized that in the long run, doing what is best for both Riot and Rioters was our ideal outcome,” the company said. “Therefore, rather than entrench ourselves and continue to litigation, we chose to pivot and try to take an approach that we believe best demonstrates our commitment to owning our past, and to healing the company so that we can move forward together.”
In an official statement on the preliminary deal, the attorney for the plaintiffs said that the settlement “provides meaningful and fair value to class members for their experiences at Riot Games.”
Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent stated:
"We are grateful for every Rioter who has come forward with their concerns and believe this resolution is fair for everyone involved. With this agreement, we are honoring our commitment to find the best and most expeditious way for all Rioters, and Riot, to move forward and heal. Over the past year, we've made substantial progress toward evolving our culture and will continue to pursue this work as we strive to be the most inclusive company in gaming."
Few details about the settlement are currently available. The parties involved will now seek the court’s final approval of the proposed deal.
Two plaintiffs have filed a proposed class action lawsuit over alleged gender discrimination at Riot Games, the company best known for creating “League of Legends.” Filed by one current and one former employee, the complaint claims female workers have been denied equal pay, faced continual harassment, and “found their careers stifled” due to their gender, byproducts of the video game developer’s allegedly toxic “bro culture.”
Describing the work environment at Riot Games as “sexually-hostile,” the lawsuit claims the gaming company, with a staff “of which 80% are male,” has strayed far from its ideals of promoting and advancing those who are bona fide video game fanatics. While being a “core gamer” is an ostensible prerequisite to being an employee at Riot Games, the lawsuit alleges the descriptor masks the defendant’s “policy and practice of preferring men to women in the hiring, promotion, and compensation of its employees.” Pervasive throughout Riot Games, the lawsuit alleges, is a “gaming culture” rife with sexual harassment and misconduct female employees are forced to endure. From the complaint:
“In sum, Riot Games looks for women who are quiet and will—literally and figuratively—‘shut up and play the game.’
If a female gets a job with Riot Games, the discrimination continues through the female employee’s tenure at Riot Games. During meetings and feedback sessions, female employees are constantly talked over by men in meetings. These meetings typically comprise up to half of a typical workday at Riot Games. Ultimately, the discrimination creates a ceiling for its female employees as they are denied higher pay, promotions, and leadership opportunities.”
Being a “core gamer,” the case continues, effectively equates to being a man. Female job applicants and employees who are outspoken, according to the plaintiffs, are considered by Riot Games’ as “aggressive,” “too ambitious,” and “annoying."
Much of the lawsuit springs from reporting from Kotaku and the Los Angeles Times that depicts “the extensive sexual harassment and gender discrimination” culture allegedly cultivated by Riot Games’ leadership. The case charges, however, that although the allegedly discriminatory scene within Riot Games has finally come to light, the company is “simply sweeping these allegations under the rug” with false investigations and counseling. In effect, the suit claims, those within Riot Games responsible for the hostile working conditions described by the plaintiffs are protected from any repercussions.
The full lawsuit, which goes into specific detail on some of the alleged conduct among male employees at Riot Games, can be read below.
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