Video game developer Riot Games has agreed to pay more than $100 million as part of a settlement resolving allegations of sex discrimination against female workers and harassment.
The agreement, announced Monday by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), marks the end of three years of litigation for Riot, a subsidiary of Chinese multinational entertainment conglomerate Tencent and developer of popular video games League of Legends and Valorant. As part of the settlement, Riot must hire an independent third-party monitor to audit compliance with workplace protections for a period of three years.
The company must also retain a third party to conduct a gender equity analysis of employee pay, job assignments, and promotions for three years.
The DFEH in October 2018 notified Riot of its investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against female employees and contractors. When the company reached a proposed $10 million class-action settlement with former female employees in 2019, the DFEH and California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) intervened.
“My office determined that Riot’s proposed initial … 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 Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower in a press release.
The new agreement, concluding the first case jointly prosecuted by the DFEH and DLSE, includes at least $80 million dedicated to compensating more than 2,300 female Riot employees and contract workers. Also included as part of the settlement is $4 million in penalties under California’s Private Attorney General Act and the creation of a $6 million dollar per year cash reserve for three years ($18 million total) to make pay adjustments and fund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.
Riot must also make available 40 full-time positions in engineer, quality assurance, or art design roles to female class members who worked as temporary contractors in a competitive process.
“This historic agreement reflects California’s commitment to strategic and effective government enforcement of the State’s robust equal-pay, anti-discrimination, and antiharassment laws,” stated DFEH Director Kevin Kish. “If entered by the court, this decree will compensate employees and contractors affected by sex discrimination and harassment, ensure lasting change in this workplace, and send the message that all industries in California, including the gaming industry, must provide equal pay and workplaces free from discrimination and harassment.”
Riot did not respond to a request for comment.
The DFEH earlier this year filed a lawsuit against fellow video game developer Activision Blizzard alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination at the company. Activision Blizzard has since been the subject of intense negative reaction from workers and the public, including employee walkouts and calls for the resignation of embattled Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick.