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Riot Games CEO accused of sexual harassment in lawsuit from ex-employee

The lawsuit describes moments of physical and verbal harassment that occurred during an employee's nearly 3 years at Riot, and up until she was, according to the lawsuit, wrongfully terminated last year.

Alissa McAloon, Publisher

February 9, 2021

2 Min Read

Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent has been accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed by a former employee alleging a pattern of inappropriate comments, sexual advances, and, eventually, professional retaliation.

The complaint was filed by Sharon O'Donnell, a former Riot employee and Laurent's executive assistant from 2017 to 2020.

In a copy of the lawsuit obtained by Vice Games, O'Donnell describes moments of physical and verbal harassment that occurred during her nearly three years at Riot Games, and up until she was, according to the lawsuit, wrongfully terminated in July 2020.

During that time, O'Donnell says that her refusal to engage with sexual comments and propositions from Laurent led to retaliation that ranges from yelling and condescension to having job duties taken away and her eventual termination.

Beyond that, the lawsuit claims that O'Donnell voiced her concerns about facing professional repercussions to both Laurent himself and Riot Games' HR department with little effect. As such, Riot Games is accused in the lawsuit of failing to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment, discrimination, and retaliation from occurring in the workplace.

The lawsuit also argues that Riot Games misclassified O'Donnell's employment status by treating her as an exempt employee despite her non-exempt status, causing her to not be paid appropriately for time worked outside of her assigned hours.

Riot Games argues, in a statement given to Vice Games, that O'Donnell's termination was based on "multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people" rather than retaliation, and says that Laurent remains at the head of Riot Games while the investigation is underway.

"In this case, because some of the claims relate to an executive leader, a special committee of our Board of Directors is overseeing the investigation, which is being conducted by an outside law firm," reads a portion of that statement. "Our CEO has pledged his full cooperation and support during this process, and we're committed to ensuring that all claims are thoroughly explored and appropriately resolved."

These accusations against Riot Games' CEO are far from the first allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination faced by the company in recent years. Riot Games is currently in the middle of a class action lawsuit backed by several current and former employees (though the suit has seemingly been pushed back into private arbitration) that accuses Riot Games of “creating, encouraging, and maintaining a work environment that exposes its female employees to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the basis of their gender or sex."

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