California intervenes in gender discrimination lawsuit against Riot Games

California intervenes in gender discrimination lawsuit against Riot Games
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The state of California is intervening in a class action settlement over alleged gender discrimination and sexual harassment at Riot Games, the video game developer behind “League of Legends,” The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

The company reached a preliminary settlement with former female employees who brought a lawsuit last year, agreeing to pay them $10 million.

However, the state believes that figure is far less than what the women deserve. After two state agencies weighed in, California is now asking the gaming company to pay the women $400 million.

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One of the state agencies added that the nonmonetary terms of the settlement also seemed inadequate, writing that “no enforceable changes to employment policies, at a company alleged to be rife with sexism, are part of the settlement.”

A spokesperson for Riot Games told The Hill the company has not yet filed a response to the state agency, but plans to this week. In an email statement they questioned the methodology the state agency used to reach the new settlement suggestion.

“We are particularly dismayed that the filing downplays and ignores the efforts we have made with respect to diversity, inclusion, and culture over the past 18 months,” the statement reads. “The Settlement Agreement includes a long list of the dozens of meaningful initiatives and changes we have made, including updates to our policies, in response to [games website] Kotaku’s reporting and the class action lawsuit. We believe that these initiatives demonstrate a real commitment to actual change that goes well above and beyond what most companies would have done in a similar situation.”

The lawsuit began in November 2018, when two women who had worked at the gaming studio in Los Angeles sued over violations of the California Equal Pay Act, alleging that they were routinely subjected to sexual harassment and were denied promotions for speaking out against that conduct.

The lawsuit followed an exposé, which revealed a "culture of sexism" at the gaming company.

In a statement released shortly after the initial settlement in August, Riot Games said after reviewing their work culture and policies "we can confidently state that gender discrimination (in pay or promotion), sexual harassment, and retaliation are not systemic issues at Riot."

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Riot Games and Rosen Saba, the firm representing the plaintiffs, have filed rebuttals to the state objections, arguing that no mistakes were made in the process of reaching the settlement and that it should be approved by the court.

There will be court hearings on Jan. 31 and Feb. 3 hearing on the state's recommendations.

Updated at 2:30 p.m.