Riot Games have punished chief operating officer Scot Gelb with two months’ unpaid suspension plus a little training, Kotaku report, for his highly visible role in the recent public revelations that Riot’s workplace culture is a trash fire. Gelb was the fella alleged to have slapped other men’s testicles, dry humped co-workers, and farted in faces. When the League Of Legends developers broadly acknowledged complaints about the workplace (without specifically addressing any charges of bro-ing out, discrimination, or sexual harassment), they vowed to remake their culture, saying “we’ve never backed down from a challenge before and we don’t plan to start now.” Their visible actions since then have suggested they still don’t really care.
Kotaku report that Riot employees received an e-mail on Monday from CEO Nicolo Laurent, specifically pointing out the consequences for Gelb. It explained:
“As I have mentioned, we are committed to protecting Rioters’ privacy and the integrity of the investigation process. This means that you will not hear me or any other leader discuss individual cases.
“Having said that, we made a very rare exception in the case of our COO, Scott Gelb. There are factors that collectively drive this exception. The Special Committee of the Board of Directors has specifically requested that one of Scott’s consequences be highly visible. Scott holds one of the most senior roles at Riot and is held to a higher level of accountability and visibility, therefore certain consequences are going to be very visible to Rioters. It’s for these reasons I feel it’s necessary to make an exception.”
He’s been penalised with two months of unpaid suspension and will receive training, Kotaku say. Presumably this training will cover such obscure minutiae of professional decorum as “Don’t touch your co-workers’ genitals without their consent, and especially don’t hit them.”
Kotaku say Riot disputed some of the allegations made against the studio and certain employees, without being specific about what they disputed, but Gelb’s name came up a whole lot and they clearly recognise his behaviour was wrong, especially given his status.
Which is why two months on the sofa at home without pay is a minor slap on the wrist for an executive, who I imagine makes more than enough money in the other ten months of the year for this to not remotely be a problem. If even a fraction of the accusations made against him have merit (and again, Riot clearly think they do), he should be out the door – should’ve been out years ago.
The contrast between Riot’s treatment of Gelb and two employees who were sweary and shouty to the public on Twitter while defending a panel Riot held on diversity for women and non-binary people is telling. They still don’t consider the “challenge” of changing their workplace a real problem, and they’re closing ranks while taking minor actions to cover themselves.