Jul 22, 2022 - Technology

Court gives green light to Riot Games $100 million settlement

Photo of a building flanked by palm trees. A red sign nearby bears the logo for Riot Games

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A California judge granted preliminary approval today to a historic $100 million settlement between League of Legends studio Riot Games and women who sued the company over gender discrimination, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The settlement is a win for women who worked at Riot and for a California agency that had blocked an earlier, smaller deal.

Details: The $100 million settlement will pay thousands of dollars to women who currently or formerly worked at Riot between Nov. 2014 and Dec. 2021.

  • It's a result of a lawsuit, filed in 2018, alleging widespread sexism and harassment at the game-maker.
  • The parties had agreed to settle for $10 million in 2019 before California's Department of Fair Employment & Housing objected to the deal.
  • The larger settlement was announced last December and required court approval.

Between the lines: The agreement comes amid an outpouring of accounts, in recent years, of sexual misconduct and gender discrimination in the video game industry.

  • A 2018 exposé about sexism at Riot was followed by accounts of misconduct at Ubisoft, Activision and other game makers.

The big picture: In recent years, women across the industry have spoken on social media and in the press about instances of physical, verbal and emotional abuse, of difficulties getting promoted or being treated as inferior to male colleagues.

  • But legal ramifications for those behaviors have been rare.

The intrigue: The win for the DFEH comes at a tumultuous time for the group, which is attempting its own reckoning with Activision.

  • The organization sued the Call of Duty maker for gender discrimination in July 2021 following a multi-year investigation into misconduct at the company.
  • But that legal fight became embroiled in a parallel investigation by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which swiftly settled with Activision for $18 million.
  • DFEH argued the settlement was too small and has tried to block it, leading to the feds throwing legal monkey wrenches into DFEH's own suit.
  • In April, California governor Gavin Newsom fired DFEH's top lawyer, who'd led efforts in the Riot and Activision cases. Another top DFEH lawyer resigned in protest, citing Activision-friendly interference from the governor, which his office later denied.

What's next: Women eligible for the settlement will receive notification by the end of August, according to the court's schedule.

  • They will have until the end of October to opt out, with payments to follow.
  • Riot has also agreed to three years of independent oversight.

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