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Riot Games to pay $100 million in gender discrimination lawsuit settlement

Bumped up from a proposed $10 million settlement

Riot Games, the makers of Valorant and League Of Legends, have agreed to pay out $100 million (£74m) as part of a proposed settlement to a class-action suit brought against them for "systemic sex discrimination and harassment". Money will go to current and former female employees and contract workers. The suit started in 2018 following widespread allegations of a festering workplace culture, and was originally due to be settled for $10 million (£7m) until California state authorities raised objections that it wasn't enough.

Under the proposed settlement, Riot would need to pay $80 million (£59m) to elibigle people, which is female employees or contractors who worked for Riot since November 6th, 2014. That's around 2365 people. The remaining $20 million (£15m) will go on attorney fees and other expenses. They'll also commit to workplace reforms, undergo an independent analysis of their pay, hiring, and promotion practices, and face independent monitoring for three years for potential sexual harrassment and retaliation in the California offices.

The court still needs to approve the settlement and that could take a few months, so it's not settled and definite. However, Riot are up for it and so are California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (a name you might recognise for going after Blizzard over alleged sexual discrimination and harrassment) and other state authorities. Both the DFEH and California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement had objected to the original $10m proposed settlement.

"My office determined that Riot's proposed initial PAGA settlement with private counsel was insufficient and did not adequately deter the company from violating women's right to equal pay for equal work," said California state labor commissioner Lilia García-Brower in a joint statement on December 27th.

"While we're proud of how far we've come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past," Riot said in their own statement. "We hope that this settlement properly acknowledges those who had negative experiences at Riot and demonstrates our desire to lead by example in bringing more accountability and equality to the games industry."

While attention has been off Riot during similar scandals at Ubisoft and Blizzard, legal troubles around workplace problems have been bubbling away in the background. In August 2021, the DFEH went to the LA Superior Court claiming that Riot were dragging their heels over complying with a court order "which required them to advise workers of their rights to speak freely with the DFEH and join a case". The notice to workers stressed that Riot couldn't require people to ask permission or notify them about taking part, nor retaliate against them.

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