Riot Games, Inc., situated in West Los Angeles, California, is an American video game developer, publisher, and esports event organizer. Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill created it in September 2006 to develop League of Legends, and it went on to develop various spin-off games as well as the unrelated first-person shooter game Valiant. Tencent, a Chinese company, bought Riot Games in 2011. Riot Forge, Riot Games’ publishing arm, is in charge of overseeing the development of League of Legends spin-offs by other studios. Arcane, a television series based on the League of Legends universe, was created in collaboration with Fortiche.
Riot Games runs 14 League of Legends esports leagues throughout the world, as well as the League of Legends World Championship and the Valorous Champions Tour. Corporate sponsorships, souvenirs, and streaming rights for its leagues are all sold by the firm, which has 24 offices across the world as of 2018. Riot has been accused of hostile workplace culture, including gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and has been sued. In reaction to these charges, the firm was chastised for using forced arbitration.
The CEO of Riot Games Is Being Investigated for Gender Discrimination
A Riot Games representative told The Verge today that Nicolo Laurent, the company’s CEO, is being investigated for gender discrimination and sexual harassment charges. After a legal suit was brought against the Valiant developer, the inquiry was disclosed.
Because of Laurent’s status within the corporation, the inquiry will be overseen by a special committee of the studio’s Board of Directors, which is presently being conducted by a third-party legal firm. “We take any reports of harassment or discrimination extremely seriously,” a Riot Games representative told The Verge. “We rigorously investigate claims and take action against anyone who is found to have broken our policies.”
Sharon O’Donnell is a former executive assistant at Riot Games who joined the studio in 2017 but alleges her employment was “wrongfully terminated” in July 2020, according to a complaint filed in early January. Laurent allegedly made sexual moves toward O’Donnell, according to O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s employment was terminated shortly after she filed a complaint with the company’s HR department about Laurent’s sexual approaches. She believes her dismissal was due to her refusal to accept the CEO’s purported approaches.
Laurent has also been accused of telling numerous female employees that the best way to deal with COVID-19-related stress was to “get kids.” Riot Games is no stranger to workplace culture problems, which were originally brought to light in 2018 following a Kotaku investigation. Former employees have initiated many legal challenges against the corporation in recent years.
A Problem in The Industry
Riot agreed to workplace improvements, an independent expert review of its compensation, recruiting, and promotion processes, and three years of monitoring for sexual harassment and “retaliation” at its California headquarters as part of the deal. In addition, the corporation must set aside $18 million (13.2 million) to fund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, as well as establish 40 full-time positions for former contract workers in engineering, quality assurance, or art design.
If the settlement is approved by the court, it will “convey the message that all companies in California, including the gambling sector, must provide fair pay and workplaces free of discrimination and harassment,” according to DFEH Director Kevin Kish.
The DFEH and another agency had stopped the arrangement, claiming that the sum to which victims were entitled was substantially larger. Riot had first agreed to settle the matter for $10 million in 2019, but the DFEH and another agency had blocked the deal.
“While we’re proud of how far we’ve come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past,” the business told the Washington Post, adding, “While we’re glad of how far we’ve come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past.” “We hope that this agreement adequately recognizes people who had bad experiences at Riot.”
Riot’s leadership team said the settlement was “the correct thing to do, for both the firm and those whose experiences at Riot fell short of our standards and values,” in a message to employees published online. According to the BBC, the corporation has improved its workplace culture since 2018, including recruiting its first chief people officer and chief diversity officer, rewriting its values, implementing new training programs, and expanding its diversity and inclusion team. Riot Games isn’t the only well-known gaming company dealing with workplace culture issues.
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