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Women Reach $10 Million Preliminary Settlement With Video Game Giant. California Government Intervenes With New Figure: $400 Million.

Two departments of the state government of California are unsatisfied with a $10 million preliminary settlement reached between Riot Games, the video game developer behind “League of Legends,” and two female former employees of the company who had alleged gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the company, and now the state wants Riot Games to ante up a drastically higher settlement: $400 million.
As The Los Angeles Times reports, the two women filed the lawsuit in November 2018, for violations of the California Equal Pay Act; the preliminary settlement was reached in December, which has to be approved by the Los Angeles Superior Court. But the same month, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) intervened, contending that the plaintiffs’ attorneys had not done adequate research before reaching a settlement. DLSE argued that the original notice for equal pay violations was misfiled.
On January 8, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said the women of Riot Games could be entitled to “over $400 million” in potential back pay; also arguing that “no enforceable changes to employment policies, at a company alleged to be rife with sexism, are part of the settlement.”
The games website Kotaku alleged behavior at Riot Games included “crotch-grabbing, phantom humping, and sending unsolicited and unwelcome pictures of male genitalia,” adding that women who complained were “denied promotions, refusals to provide increased compensation or equal pay, demotions, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, losses of benefits, suspensions, terminations, and other adverse employment actions.”
Kotaku noted the success of the company: “Riot Games, founded in 2006, has become one of the biggest companies in gaming on the back of its sole release, League of Legends, which had 100 million monthly players in 2016. With 2,500 employees across 20 offices, Riot is a powerhouse. In 2013, Riot was named one of Business Insider’s 25 best tech companies to work for. Two years later, it made $1.6 billion in revenue.”
Riot and Rosen Saba, the firm representing the plaintiffs, have filed rebuttals against the state’s argument that mistakes were made during the reaching of the settlement. Riot 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.”
A spokesman for Riot Games stated, “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. The Settlement Agreement includes a long list of the dozens of meaningful initiatives and changes we have made, including updates to our policies, in response to [games website] Kotaku’s reporting and the class action lawsuit. We believe that these initiatives demonstrate a real commitment to actual change that goes well above and beyond what most companies would have done in a similar situation.”
A spokesperson for Riot Games told The Hill that Riot Games has not yet officially responded to DFEH.

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