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Riot Games faces lawsuit for sexual discrimination, harassment

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Riot Games HQ
Riot Games has vowed to change its culture following
allegations of sexual discrimination.

Riot Games

  • League of Legends developer Riot Games is facing a class-action
    lawsuit claiming the company harbored a sexist work environment
    with women suffering from unequal pay and regular harassment.
  • Reports detailing the company’s “bro culture”
    surfaced in August 2018, leading Riot to issue an apology to
    current and past employees.
  • The two women who filed the lawsuit detailed multiple
    instances of inappropriate behavior, including a list of “Hottest
    Women Employees” and unsolicited photos of male genitalia.

Months after reports accused League of Legends developer Riot
Games of fostering a sexist work environment, two employees, one
former and one current, have filed a class action lawsuit against
the company for discrimination and harassment. In the complaint
filed with the California Superior Court in Los Angeles, the
plaintiffs claim that Riot denied them equal pay and blocked
their career advancements on the basis of gender.

Both plaintiffs are women and claim that Riot’s focus on
male-dominated video game culture led to sexual harassment and
misconduct in the workplace. A copy of the complaint obtained
by GMG Group directly references an investigative report from Kotaku detailing
the experiences of more than two dozen Riot employees, many of
whom share the same criticism. Riot acknowledged that the
company’s emphasis on “gamer” culture resulted in gendered
discrimination after the report was released in August.



Read more:
Riot Games apologizes after being
accused of sexist culture, vows to change

Representatives for the
plaintiffs, Jessica Negron and Melanie McCracken,
claim the “core gamer” identity emphasized by Riot is explicitly
male and was used to disqualify women from recruitment and
promotions. Furthermore, they allege that women have been
assigned to lower paying jobs while less qualified men receive
more frequent promotions. The lawsuit also claims women in the
workplace are subjected to additional criticism, harassment, and
retaliation based on gender.

“Women are required to participate and tolerate crude male humor
which include jokes about sex, defecation, masturbation, rape,
and torture. Women who do not join in these adolescent humor
jokes are classified as ‘snobby’ and unwilling to fit in with the
company,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit offers several specific examples of how Riot’s “bro
culture” negatively impacted female employees. According to
the claim, one of the plaintiffs counted male Riot Games using
the work dick more than 500 times during a single month. Other
employees were shown unsolicited photos of male genitalia, and
one woman found an email chain in which coworkers discussed what
it would be like to “penetrate her.” The claim states there is an
ongoing email chain of “Riot Games Hottest Women Employees” that
rates female employees.

Basic work dynamics allegedly suffered as well, as the plaintiffs
said women are frequently talked over during meetings and have
their ideas dismissed. Riot Games CEO and co-founder Brandon Beck
allegedly used the phrase “no doesn’t necessarily mean no” as a
slogan for the company during an internal meeting.

One plaintiff said her supervisor told her, “Diversity should not
be a focal point of the design of Riot Games’ products because
gaming culture is the last remaining safe-haven for white teen
boys.”


Riot Games Brandon Beck (CEO) Marc Merrill (President).
Riot
Games CEO and co-founder Brandon Beck (left, with and president
Marc Merrill), allegedly used the phrase “no doesn’t necessarily
mean no” as a slogan for the company during an internal
meeting.

Riot
Games


When asked to comment on the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Riot
Games offered the following statement:

“While we do not discuss the details of ongoing litigation,
we can say that we take every allegation of this nature seriously
and investigate them thoroughly.

We remain committed
to a deep and comprehensive evolution of our culture to ensure
Riot is a place where all Rioters thrive. We’ve shared our
progress here:

https://www.riotgames.com/en/how-were-evolving
.”

Since the initial reports of sexism surfaced in August,
Riot has been detailing their efforts to combat sexism and
discrimination within the company. This includes bringing in
third-party consultants to help redefine the company culture, and
sharing a timeline of actionable steps to make that
change happen. 

Still, regardless of what steps are being made to fix the
problem, Riot will need to answer the allegations of past
discrimination in court. Both plaintiffs are seeking damages for
multiple instances of discrimination and harassment, as well as
violations of California’s Equal Pay Act. The court will need to
certify the lawsuit in order for it to become class action.

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