Gaming developer Riot Games ‘delaying’ discrimination and sexual harassment investigations

Valorant from Riot Games

League of Legends and Valorant developer Riot Games has been allegedly delaying sexual harassment investigations.

Just as Activision Blizzard are being investigated by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for sexual harassment and a “frat boy” culture, a similar lawsuit has also been filed against Riot Games.

The investigation into Riot Games began in 2018 after alleged unequal pay, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment, with a lawsuit formally filed in February of this year.

Now, the DFEH alleges that Riot has delayed the investigation process by failing to notify workers of their right to speak to the DFEH about sexual harassment and unlawful workplace practices.

“Agreements that attempt to bar individuals from filing a complaint or assisting in a DFEH case run afoul of the anti-retaliation and anti-interference provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act,” said DFEH Director Kevin Kish in a statement

“Employers cannot impose a penalty on people who engage in protected activity under statutes enforced by DFEH. The very existence of such agreements has a chilling effect on the willingness of individuals to come forward with information that may be of importance to the DFEH as it seeks to advance the public interest in the elimination of unlawful employment discrimination and harassment.”

In 2019, over a year after the DFEH began investigating Riot, the company settled with approximately 100 women who waived their claims and rights without notice of the government’s actions, says the statement.

The DFEH has sought these settlement agreements, but Riot Games delayed the production of these agreements.

Reads the statement: “Alarmed by language in Riot’s settlement and separation agreements that suggested employees could not voluntarily and candidly speak with the government about sexual harassment and other violations, and obtain relief in the government’s actions, DFEH promptly moved for relief from the Court. The Court ordered Riot to issue the corrective notice; however, Riot has delayed the process for two months.”

Kotaku contacted Riot Games about the delay. They responded that “this issue is mainly related to former employees”, that “Notices are being sent to former employees to confirm that Riot’s severance agreements have never in any way prohibited speaking to government agencies”, and that “Riot has never and will never retaliate against anyone for talking to any government agency”.

In 2018, Kotaku published a scathing report into the sexist culture of Riot Games. 

Since then, sexual harassment claims have rocked the gaming industry, from Ubisoft in 2020 to Activision Blizzard most recently.

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