Riot Games has agreed to settle a 2018 gender discrimination class-action lawsuit against it by paying $100 million in compensation and legal fees. That sum is 10 times what the maker of League of Legends and Valorant had originally agreed to pay in the settlement.
$80 million of the $100 million settlement will be paid to current and former employees, including contractors, who identify as women and worked for Riot Games at any time since November 2014. At least 2,365 workers are eligible to be part of the settlement. Payments will be distributed via a fund that is still waiting on court approval. The other $20 million will cover attorneys' fees and other expenses. Riot's pay processes will be overseen by a third party for three years.
Former Riot Games employees Melanie McCracken and Jes Negrón filed the lawsuit in 2018 after a Kotaku report revealed pervasive gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the company. The head of the law firm that represented them, Genie Harrison, applauded the settlement in a statement.
"This is a great day for the women of Riot Games – and for women at all video game and tech companies – who deserve a workplace that is free of harassment and discrimination," Harrison said. "We appreciate Riot’s introspection and work since 2018 toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive company, its willingness to take responsibility for its past, and its commitment to continued fairness and equality in the future."
The settlement Riot Games had previously reached in 2019 required only $10 million in payments to the thousands of class members. California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement stepped in to oppose the settlement, arguing Riot should pay up to $400 million for its labor violations. The agreement was subsequently withdrawn.
In addition to the $100 million payout, Riot has agreed to "substantial systemic changes" including a "gender equity analysis" of pay, promotions and assignments performed by an independent expert for three years. Riot will commit $6 million each year to diversity initiatives and to work toward pay equity, for a total of $18 million.
"While we’re proud of how far we’ve come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past," Riot Games said in a statement. "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.”
The lawsuit against Riot was an early catalyst for the ongoing wave of reckoning around sexism in the video games industry. Similar revelations of discrimination have occurred at Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard, where employees are still working to achieve justice.