Riot Games to pay $100 million in lawsuit

“League of Legends” publisher Riot Games announced Monday that it is settling a 2018 gender-based discrimination class-action suit with California state agencies and current and former women employees for $100 million. The company will pay $80 million to members of the class-action suit and approximately $20 million toward plaintiffs’ legal fees.

The Los Angeles lawsuit was filed in November 2018 by now-former employees Melanie McCracken and Jess Negrón, alleging gender discrimination as well as sexual harassment and misconduct at Riot Games. The suit was followed by two inquiries led by California state agencies.

The suit came after gaming news site Kotaku published an exposé about a culture of sexism at Riot Games, where female employees were asked in job interviews to be “core gamers” and “League of Legends” players. In the article, women said they were turned away for insufficiently satisfying those criteria during the hiring process.

“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,” said the plaintiffs’ counsel, the employment and sexual harassment lawyer Genie Harrison. “We appreciate Riot’s introspection and work since 2018 toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive company.”

Riot Games agreed to settle the suit in 2019 for $10 million, but California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) intervened, blocking the agreement with a court filing in which the agency argued that victims should be entitled to as much as $400 million. The DFEH posted a news release acknowledging the settlement Monday night.

The new settlement is with the DFEH, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and certain individual claimants. 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.

At least 2,300 workers are eligible for part of the $80 million settlement, with those who started earlier or worked at the company longer receiving a larger allocation of the funds. Riot Games will pay into a settlement fund that will then be distributed to claimants following a court’s approval.

McCracken settled out of the suit for an undisclosed figure. Riot Games declined to comment on whether certain individual plaintiffs who had entered arbitration agreements with the company would receive part of the $80 million.

In the settlement, Riot Games also agreed to certain workplace policy reforms. These include greater transparency around pay scales for job applicants, not relying on prior salary history to set employees’ pay or assign job titles and the creation of a pipeline for current or former temp agency contractors to apply to work for Riot Games. The publisher will also implement a policy requiring the presence of a woman or member of an underrepresented community on employment selection panels.

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