The payment of a $10 million settlement from Riot Games to female employees could be held up by the objections of two California agencies — including one that contends the workers deserve much more, perhaps more than $400 million, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
Two women who worked at the Los Angeles-based developer of League of Legends sued the company in November 2018, contending they were victims of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. Last month, the parties agreed to a settlement of a class-action lawsuit that would divide the money among a reported 1,000 current and former employees, who have been waiting for its approval in Los Angeles Superior Court.
But the Times reported Tuesday that the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which reviewed the settlement, said in a court filing earlier this month that the women instead could be due “over $400 million” based on several contributing factors.
The state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement also contends that the lawyers for the women didn’t follow proper procedures under state laws.
Riot Games and the plaintiffs’ attorney each have submitted their rebuttals to the agencies’ concerns and are asking the court to approve the settlement.
“We worked hard to negotiate with the lawyer representing the class to reach an agreement that we collectively believe is fair for the class members,” Riot spokesperson Joe Hixson said in a written statement to the Times. “Now DFEH is trying to disrupt that agreement in a legal filing that is filled with inaccuracies and false allegations.”
“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,” Hixson continued. “We look forward to making our case to the Court.”
The Times reported that the court is scheduled to decide on Jan. 31 whether DSLE can get involved in the case and potentially pursue litigation against Riot Games for violating labor laws.
Then, on Feb. 3, a judge is expected to determine whether the settlement should be thrown out or rejected.
The case dates back to August 2018, when allegations of rampant sexism within the company emerged. Multiple then-current and former employees described examples of sexism and misogyny at a variety of levels in a lengthy article in the industry publication Kotaku.
Among the accusations leveled at the company were that female employees were talked over and their ideas dismissed, despite the same ideas being accepted when later proposed by male colleagues, and that they also were passed up for promotions in favor of male candidates with less experience.
In March 2019, the company hired its first chief diversity officer, Angela Roseboro, to serve as the leader of the organization’s diversity, inclusion and overall “Riot culture,” per a company news release. She was tasked with building a more inclusive culture at Riot.
—Field Level Media