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Riot Games gender discrimination class action ends in $100m settlement

The $100 million settlement reserves $80 million to be paid out to staff and contractors at Riot Games, and includes forward-looking safeguards for pay equality and DE&I initiatives.

Riot Games has agreed to settle a 2018 gender discrimination class-action lawsuit for $100 million, ending a years-long legal back-and-forth involving forced arbitration clauses, conversations with multiple California regulators, and employee walkouts.

The class-action lawsuit was first filed in 2018 by former Riot Games employees Melanie McCracken and Jess Negrón shortly following an extensive Kotaku report detailing a deep-seated culture of sexism within the company. This settlement notably follows a previous $10 million settlement attempt that regulators argued let the League of Legends developer off too lightly.

Now jointly approved by both Riot and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, this $100 million settlement includes $80 million to be paid out to women employees and contract workers at Riot, with the remainder set to cover legal fees and other expenses. Officially, the settlement has yet to be approved by the court but a hearing is expected in the next few months.

The proposed settlement also requires Riot to create a yearly $6 million cash reserve for three years for pay adjustments and DE&I programs, create 40 full-time positions in relevant fields for contractors included in the class-action, and hire both a third-party expert to analyze pay and promotion practices as well as a third-party monitor to audit compliance for the next three years.

“While we’re proud of how far we’ve come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past," reads a statement from Riot Games. "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 the Riot Games lawsuit and reporting kicked off what Riot accurately calls a "reckoning" in its full statement, that reckoning is far from complete in the wider game development industry. Similar stories of discrimination and harassment have emerged from fellow game development giant Activision Blizzard just this year. Those allegations and Activision Blizzard's reaction to them have so far prompted an investigation by the California DFEH and the SEC, calls for CEO Bobby Kotick's resignation, and multiple mass employee walkouts.

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