Riot Games investigating its CEO over sexual harassment lawsuit

A former executive assistant accuses Nicholas Laurent of making unwanted sexual advances.

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Riot Games CEO Nicholas Laurent has been accused of sexual harassment by a former executive assistant.

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Riot Games, maker of League of Legends, said Tuesday that it's investigating accusations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination leveled against its chief executive, Nicolas Laurent. The investigation was announced after a lawsuit filed by a former executive assistant at Riot Games accused Laurent of making unwanted sexual advances and demeaning gender-based comments.

Sharon O'Donnell, a former executive assistant to Laurent, sued Riot and Laurent in Los Angeles County Superior Court in January, alleging the chief executive made sexually suggestive remarks to her and invited her to work from his home when his wife wouldn't be there, according to the lawsuit, seen by The Washington Post.

When O'Donnell rejected Laurent's advances, he grew hostile and reduced her workplace responsibilities, resulting in her termination in July, according to the lawsuit.

"Riot Games is a male-dominated culture," where female employees were "discriminated against, harassed and treated as second-class citizens," the lawsuit says.

Riot disputed O'Donnell's account of her termination from the company.

"The plaintiff was dismissed from the company over seven months ago following more than a dozen complaints from both employees and external partners and after multiple coaching discussions to try and address these concerns," a Riot spokesperson said in a statement. The statement also said the company had formed a special committee made up of members of its board to investigate the allegations, with the aid of an outside law firm.

O'Donnell's attorney didn't respond to a request for comment.

Riot has previously faced allegations of harboring an internal culture unfriendly to female employees. The video game maker was sued in 2018 by current and former employees alleging unequal pay, discrimination and a "sexually hostile work environment," among other things. The company agreed in 2019 to pay at least $10 million to settle the lawsuit.