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Riot Games Culture Seeks Improvement with Updated Company Values

by Olufisayo
Riot Games

After a turbulent end to 2018 amidst intense scrutiny following a gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit, Riot Games seeks to make changes to its work culture while being highly scrutinized by the industry, its critics, regulatory agencies, and former and current employees.

The plaintiff of this lawsuit claims that the Riot Games corporate culture is toxic with gender pay discrimination and a fraternity-like work culture that violates the rights of an equal opportunity workplace. Riot Games has issued multiple responses.

One of its most recent changes includes developing a new set of company values after months of deliberations with its current and former employees.

2018 Ends with Gender Discrimination and Harassment Lawsuit

2018 was a rocky year for Riot Games, developer of the massively online arena battle (MOAB) game “League of Legends.” Sued by a current and a former employee, the lawsuit claims that Riot Games violated the California Equal Pay Act, engaged in workplace gender discrimination, and fostered a sexually hostile “bro” workplace that is reminiscent of a fraternity.

The lawsuit seeks to be classified into a class action suit pending decision from the courts. The two plaintiffs, Melanie McCracken and Jessica Negron, is suing Riot Games for unpaid wages, damages, and other penalties. Soon after the original investigation became public, many other employees spoke out about the years of harassment and discrimination while under employment at Riot Games.

       

Employee Pay Discrimination

The two plaintiffs claim that the Riot Games culture is akin to a fraternity and stifled their career growth. According to Negron, when her former manager left the company, she assumed all the responsibilities of his position. However, during this time she was denied a promotion and continued earning a salary of $59,000 while her former manager earned an annual salary of $160,000. Other claims of unequal wages due to gender differences surfaced from other employees.

In 2019, Riot Games is further accused of non-compliance with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) by withholding basic employment salary and pay rate data from the regulatory agency. In order to obtain these documents, the DFEH has filed suit with Californian courts against Riot Games.

Riot Games Employee Walk Out in Protest

After the original lawsuit, three other employees have stood out to file lawsuits against the company. Riot Games seeks to bring two of the lawsuits into arbitration, due to an arbitration clause in employee contracts that require employees to seek third-party arbitration remedies as opposed to resorting to lawsuits.

This refusal to remove the arbitration cause for sexually harassed employees intensified employee discontent and resulted in 150 employees staging a walkout in 2019. This walkout gained national attention as the first workplace walkout in the United States from a major gaming company.

Attempts at Reconciliation

Against mounting pressure and legal actions, Riot Games claimed to be making all efforts to address its situation. Earlier this year, Riot Games culture made changes and published its new core values.

       

Other changes made by Riot Games include the hiring of a senior adviser for the development of diversity and leadership strategies, allowing all employees to speak anonymously with the press without repercussions, and committing to remove the forced arbitration clause for new employees after this current round of litigation is settled.

While Riot Games has attempted to make strides in improving transparency and addressing its workplace culture, many employees deemed the efforts of their company unsatisfactory. 2019 will be a year where Riot Games will focus internally on redefining its work culture.

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