Gaming

State agencies want Riot Games to pay up to $400 million in discrimination suit

In 2019, League of Legends creator Riot Games agreed to a settlement in a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit that resulted in a $10 million payout to about 1,000 current and former employees. However, state agencies in California believe this figure amounts to little more than a slap on the wrist and claim the total payment should be substantially higher — possibly $400 million.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement requested to intervene in the settlement case under the grounds that the women suing Riot Games have not been adequately represented by their lawyers.  The agency said it is required under California law to be notified of a potential labor lawsuit in order to have an opportunity to pursue its own case, but the notice was misfiled and it thus has a right to step in.

Additionally, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing had been investigating Riot Games since late 2018 and said in a document filed in early January that the plaintiffs could be entitled to $400 million or more. It also said non-monetary action, such as changes in the workplace, also appeared to be ineffective.

The Los Angeles Times report also said that the plaintiffs’ firm, Rosen Saba LLP, has filed a rebuttal to the state agencies, despite the fact that a change could result in a substantially larger payout.

Riot Games’ corporate communications lead Joe Hixon acknowledged these “strongly worded objections” when speaking to Digital Trends, and referred to the $400 million figure as “clickbait.”

Riot Games’ original settlement came a few months after a lengthy article detailing a culture of sexism was publishedbyt Kotaku. The article alleged that Riot Games put women at a disadvantage, with employees being talked about in a sexual manner over email and asked inappropriate questions during the hiring process. Women said they were also not given attention when speaking during meetings, with men talking over them, and would be criticized when not doing secretarial-style work that was not part of their job description.

The $10 million settlement for gender discrimination by a video game company was already fairly unprecedented, but a potential $400 million payout would send an even clearer message to executives at major studios — gaming is no longer a boys’ club, and those discriminated against are no longer powerless to stop it.

Updated on 1-23-20 with quotes from Riot Games.

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