Last December, Riot Games, the studio behind League of Legends, agreed to pay $10 million to the claimants in a gender discrimination lawsuit. However, the state of California has now stepped in and is seeking to increase the payment to $400 million.
Many people may remember Kotaku's investigative piece that revealed allegations of sexism and systemic disadvantages women faced. This kicked off 16 months of trouble for Riot Games as they faced public walkouts, harsh criticism, and most importantly, a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit over violations in California's Equal Pay act. This lawsuit reached a climax early last month when Riot settled for $10 million to be paid out among about 1,000 female women who've worked since November 2014.
However, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that two state agencies, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE,) are throwing their hats into the ring and rekindling the case. On January 8, the DFEH filed documents that suggest the claimants are entitled to "over $400 million" in back pay based on the gender wage disparity at Riot Games. The DFEH also claims that "no enforceable changes to employment policies, at a company alleged to be rife with sexism, are part of the settlement." Also, they argue that Rosen Saba, the plaintiff's legal representation, failed to determine a fair monetary compensation and is responsible for several procedural mistakes.
As for the intervention from the DLSE, they believe Rosen Saba failed to carry out due diligence with the preliminary settlement and gave Riot Games a free pass on various workers' rights violations. In late December, the DLSE filed an official request to intervene in the case to ensure Riot Games isn't let off the hook. This request hinges on a 2004 state law, the Private Attorneys General Act, which allows employees and their lawyers to sue companies for breaking labor laws. However, the plaintiff must inform the state that they're filing a suit and give the state first dibs on taking the case itself. The DLSE argues that since the case was misfiled, Riot Games could get away with unrelated violations of issues like minimum wage and overtime.
Riot Games' rebuttal to the state's claims
Riot Games and Rosen Saba have filed rebuttals to the claims. On the allegations brought forward by the DFEH, Riot Games spokesperson Joe Hixson told the Los Angeles Times:
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. 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. We look forward to making our case to the Court.
The court will decide if the DLSE is entitled to intervene on January 31, which would allow the agency to engage in their own discovery and litigation on labor violations as part of the same suit. As for the payout, the judge will decide on whether the payout should be $10 million or $400 million on February 3. Riot Games is worth an estimated $21 billion.
What do you think about the intervention in the Riot Games lawsuit? Do you think the newly suggested payout is fairer for the claimants? Let us know in the comments below!