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Riot Games sex discrimination lawsuit to end with $100M payout

The League of Legends developer agrees to pay more than $100 million to resolve a 2018 gender discrimination and sexual harassment suit.

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Riot Games

League of Legends developer Riot Games has agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle a 2018 gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit, The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said this week. The class action suit against the maker of the esports fave and of popular new competitive title Valorant was initially filed by a group of current and former employees alleging "equal pay violations, gender/sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation."

Under the settlement, which is still awaiting court approval, a minimum of $80 million will go directly to worker compensation. Riot will also pay for an independent, regulator-approved third party to conduct a gender-equity study covering employee pay, job assignments and promotions, and an independent auditor to monitor workplace compliance over the three-year period covered by the consent decree. Money from the settlement will also fund diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

"It takes bravery to come forward with a loud message about oppression and pain, but the right people hear it and will help," plaintiff Gabriela Downie said in a statement. "I'm grateful to the other Riot women who stood up alongside me and to all the Rioters who supported our efforts to achieve equal pay and fair treatment for women."

Another plaintiff, Gina Cruz Rivera, urged perseverance. "To the rest of our industry, keep speaking up and keep pushing for accountability. Your voice matters and together we can make this industry safer and more inclusive for everyone."

In a statement, Riot acknowledged past failures and said it's looking ahead: "We hope this settlement properly acknowledges those who had negative experiences at Riot. We also hope it demonstrates our desire to lead by example in our industry, and symbolizes a moment where we move forward as a united company that always strives to do better for Rioters and players."

A previously proposed $10 million settlement was rejected by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement in 2019 on the grounds that it "had been rushed and that the violations could amount to additional millions in damages."

This hasn't been the only lawsuit aimed at Riot. In January, the company and CEO Nicholas Laurent were sued by Laurent's executive assistant, who accused him of unwanted sexual advances and said she was fired after resisting them. Riot has disputed her account and said in March that a company-commissioned inquiry into the allegations found no wrongdoing by Laurent.

And Riot isn't the only gaming company facing such scrutiny. In July, Activision Blizzard was also hit with a lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleging sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, which has led to calls for CEO Bobby Kotick to resign