Riot Games logo

Riot Games class-action sex discrimination suit appoints new counsel 

The participants of a discrimination lawsuit filed against Riot Games have withdrawn their request for a $10 million settlement.

Though Riot Games recently agreed to a $10 million (£7.6m) collective settlement to female employees who worked at the company over the last five years, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement subsequently intervened, prompting California regulators to request the company set aside a $400 million (£305m) instead

Now, class action representatives Melanie McCracken, Jessica Negron, and Gabriela Downie have sought new legal counsel with employment lawyer Joseph Lovretovich and Genie Harrison, who led on the #MeToo complaints filed against the Weinstein Company.

“These brave women spoke out against gender inequality and sexism, and I want to make sure they are fairly compensated,” said Harrison. “Our well-qualified statisticians are already analysing pay data. We intend to recover the compensation due to the women of Riot Games and achieve institutional reform, in order to level the playing field for women.”

Issues about Riot’s alleged unacceptable workplace culture originated after a report by Kotaku took contributions from dozens of members of Riot staff both past and present. While not all female employees have experienced issues, it painted a picture of a studio with a systemic culture of sexism, prompting a formal apology from Riot.

Subsequently, five Riot Games employees – some former, some present – filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, alleging the publisher of a “sexually-hostile working environment” that has stifled their pay and career prospects because they are women. Since then, Riot has agreed to remove such forced arbitration clauses from employment contracts, but the changes will not affect staff already employed with the company – including the women who instigated legal action against the studio.

It culminated in 200 Riot Games employees walking out in May following revelations that the company was trying to block a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit by insisting some of the women involved had agreed to arbitration clauses when they signed their employment contracts.

In a statement made at the time of the settlement, Riot said: “We made a commitment to Rioters that we would be willing to take the steps necessary to build trust and to demonstrate that we’re serious about Riot evolving into an excellent place to work for all Rioters. Under these circumstances, we’ve had to look critically at our litigation approach to the class action lawsuit. 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. Therefore, rather than entrench ourselves and continue to litigate, 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. 

“As such, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve come to an agreement in principle to settle the class action lawsuit against Riot.”

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

Check Also

Ins and Outs – September 2020’s industry hires roundup

Here are the highlights from the recent industry hires and moves, as published in MCV/DEVELOP's September issue.