Riot Games, the maker of League of Legends and other popular video games, has been in the news since at least May. That’s when 150 of its employees walked away from their desks in Los Angeles, CA, in protest over what they said was a toxic corporate culture that discriminated against women.
The video game industry has long been a hotbed of allegations of sexism where women are undervalued and often discredited in what is often a male-dominated field. Riot Games denied the allegations, claiming that “gender discrimination (in pay or promotion), sexual harassment and retaliation are not systemic at Riot.”
Just the same, the company has decided to settle with the women who filed a class-action lawsuit regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace. Around 1,000 women — some former employees and some current — will share a $10 million settlement. The decision to settle might have something to do with the numerous employees who have stepped forward, describing the company as a place where “bro culture” ruled and crotch-grabbing, unsolicited pictures of genitalia and lists ranking the female employee’s physical attributes were not only common but a frequent source of locker-room humor.
Women also claimed that they were basically encouraged to keep quiet and stay in their places. Outspoken female employees were denied promotions, given less pay, demoted or reassigned to undesirable tasks. Others faced suspensions or were fired if they complained.
Riot claims that it settled simply because all the litigation and media coverage was distracting their employees from their jobs — but that may simply be the smokescreen that’s being thrown up so the company can maintain its denials.
Hopefully, this will be an expensive lesson learned and Riot Games will take the necessary steps to change its corporate culture and eliminate further problems. Just the same, gender discrimination in the workplace is an ongoing problem that can only be stamped out by continually exposing the issue and making it too expensive for companies to ignore.