Riot Games Settles Sex Discrimination Lawsuit for $100 Million

Leah Shepherd By Leah Shepherd May 18, 2023

​The Los Angeles-based video game developer Riot Games agreed to pay $100 million to settle a sex discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit, the largest settlement of its kind in the California Department of Civil Rights' history.

The female employees who brought the case claimed the company paid women less than similarly situated men; assigned women to less highly compensated jobs; promoted men more frequently than similarly situated women; and exposed employees to gender-based discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace.

The lawsuit cited examples of discrimination and harassment that went unaddressed, such as:

  • Requiring female workers to temporarily fulfill roles above their title and pay grade and then ultimately hiring a man to fill the role.
  • Firing two male workers who were vocal advocates of gender diversity in the workplace.
  • Objectifying women, including keeping a list called "Riot Games Hottest Women Employees."
  • Frequent sexual jokes about rape, masturbation and body parts.
  • Requiring female workers to participate in online gaming where they were routinely subjected to harassment.
  • Showing female workers photos of male genitalia.
  • Talking over and ignoring female colleagues.
  • Belittling female workers for having families or speaking too much.

Riot Games calls its workers "Rioters." Gaude Paez, the company's senior vice president of corporate affairs, said, "This has been a long road for everyone involved, and we're grateful to Rioters for their patience and support throughout this process. … We've worked hard over the past several years to create a culture at Riot where inclusivity is the norm and embracing diversity fuels creativity, and we're committed to making sure that remains true moving forward."

We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other trusted sources.

Large Class Action

Riot Games and others have been in the public spotlight in recent years as part of a wider reckoning about the treatment of women in the gaming industry.
The settlement applies to 1,548 women who are or were staffers or contractors at Riot Games.

Big Sums

The settlement includes a minimum of $80 million for female employees and temporary contractors, plus injunctive relief, the California Civil Rights Department said. Payments range from $5,000 to $156,056, with an average estimated payment of $49,709 after fees, settlement administrator Rust Consulting Inc. said in a court-ordered supplemental filing.

Women represented 27.5 percent of Riot Games staff in 2022, up from 22 percent in 2019, the company's annual report said.

(Bloomberg Law)

Corrective Action

The agreement calls for Riot Games to spend $18 million over three years to fund diversity, equity and inclusion programs. It must fill 40 full-time engineer, quality assurance or art design positions with women who worked as temporary contractors in a competitive process. It also will pay a third-party expert to conduct gender-equity analysis of employee pay, job assignments and promotions for three years.
(Sacramento Bee)

Two Types of Sexual Harassment

For legal purposes, there are two types of sexual harassment claims: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
Quid pro quo means "this for that." In this context, it involves expressed or implied demands for sexual favors in exchange for some benefit, such as a promotion or raise.
Hostile work environment harassment arises when speech or conduct is so severe and pervasive that it creates an intimidating or demeaning environment that negatively affects a person's job performance.
(SHRM Online)

Goldman Sachs Settles Sex Bias Lawsuit

Goldman Sachs, a global investment bank headquartered in New York City, recently settled a class-action lawsuit over gender pay discrimination for $215 million. It's one of the largest discrimination settlements in U.S. history, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys. A trial had been scheduled for June.
(SHRM Online)



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