Riot Games has announced that it will settle a 2018 lawsuit filed over gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment for $100 million. This comes in a year where we have seen new lawsuits filed against companies like Activision Blizzard over discrimination, sexual harassment, and hostile workplace concerns, as well as some policy changes from others in the industry.
Riot’s agreement will see $80 million go to a fund for all of the over 2,000 claimants in the suit and $20 million towards their legal fees. It does not cover a separate suit filed over sexual harassment and discrimination this year. As reported by the Washington Post, those who identify as women and worked for Riot between November 2014 and today will qualify for some kind of payout based on several conditions, like when they began working for the company and how long their employment or contract position lasted.
Riot sent an email to its employees late Monday night and addressed the suit and settlement, noting that even more people will qualify for payment under the deal since the company has hired more women in recent years.
This is a significant step up from Riot’s originally proposed $10 million settlement in 2019, which was opposed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and subsequently blocked by courts. The California DFEH is also trying to stop the $18 million settlement proposal between Activision Blizzard and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as insufficient. While that case is still up in the air, and looking unlikely to succeed, the Riot settlement looks more or less on its way to approval. This too is pending a judge’s decision, but all sides here seem to be in agreement and the DFEH is on board.
This settlement extends beyond just a payout, since Riot agreed to several reforms intended to improve workplace conditions, and have both greater transparency and representation in hiring. This means that they will be unable to use prior salary history in hiring decisions, they will have at least one woman or member of another underrepresented group on every hiring panel. They’ll also be creating a way for contractors at Riot, hired through temp agencies or otherwise, to have a way to apply for permanent positions.