League Of Legends Dev May Need To Pay Much More To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

California's labor and fair employment groups believe the settlement should be close to $400 million.

In December, it was reported that League of Legends developer Riot Games would pay $10 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. However, this settlement total was later thought to be many millions lower than what it should have been, and now it's been withdrawn by the legal team representing the staffers who filed the lawsuit in the first place.

A new team of lawyers hired by the former female employees of Riot Games withdrew the proposed settlement of $10 million, saying it was the result of "alleged mistakes and improprieties by prior class counsel," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The members of the class action group have now hired women's rights attorney Genie Harrison and employment lawyer Joseph Lovretovich to take over for the previous counsel.

The new legal team will fight for a much larger payout for the class group. The California Department of Fair Employment and House and the Department of Labor Standards and Enforcement said in January that the initial $10 million settlement was "rushed."

The groups maintain that Riot Games should actually be on the hook for a further $390 million in damages, bringing the total settlement to $400 million.

All of the approximately 1,000 female employees who worked at Riot from November 2014 until the settlement is complete are set to receive a share of the payout. If it does come out to $400 million, and if it is divided equally, it would work out to $400,000 each--but that won't be how it works. The Los Angeles Times reports that the payouts will depend on the length of their employment and their status as full-time versus contractor.

"These brave women spoke out against gender inequality and sexism, and I want to make sure they are fairly compensated," Harrison said. "Our well-qualified statisticians are already analyzing pay data. We intend to recover the compensation due to the women of Riot Games and achieve institutional reform, in order to level the playing field for women."

Lovretovich added: "We don't step into these types of cases lightly, but where questions of fairness and justice are at stake, we want to ensure these class representatives are getting the justice they seek."

An August 2018 expose from Kotaku's Cecilia D'Anastasio contained numerous serious and dramatic accusations about the "bro culture" within Riot. Among the details was that managers were said to have had lists where they ranked women by attractiveness.

In August 2019, when the initial settlement was first announced, Riot maintained that it doesn't have systemic issues related to gender discrimination, though it did acknowledge that the workplace environment was less than ideal.

"After extensively reviewing these issues, we can confidently state that gender discrimination (in pay or promotion), sexual harassment, and retaliation are not systemic issues at Riot," the company said. "But, what we also learned during this process was that some Rioters have had experiences that did not live up to our values or culture. In addition, we've encountered considerable fatigue among Rioters, who have been drained by constant engagement with the internal and external dialogues emerging from these lawsuits and recurring media cycles."

In a statement, Riot Games said in a statement that it believes the earlier judgement of $10 million is the right number, and it will fight in court to defend itself.

"Throughout this process we’ve focused on reaching a resolution that’s fair to everyone involved, while continuing to demonstrate our commitment to the transformative journey we’ve been on for the past 18 months," Riot said. "We understand that the plaintiffs’ new counsel needs adequate time to review the proposed settlement agreement and we respect that. That said, the analysis and discussions which led to the earlier proposed settlement were comprehensive and thorough, and we believe that the proposal was fair and adequate under the circumstances."

"We’re committed to working collaboratively to reach a resolution that reflects our commitment to move forward together, but it needs to be one that is justified by the underlying facts. It has been our position from the beginning to do the right thing by the plaintiffs as well as Riot, and we will continue to do just that.With respect to the numbers posited by the DFEH, we’ll say again that there is no basis in fact or reason that would justify that level of exposure and we believe that any assertions to the contrary can simply not be made in good faith.

"While we have acknowledged that there is work that we needed to do to better live up to our values, we have also made clear to our employees that we will defend ourselves against false narratives and unfair claims that do nothing to remedy any hardships of actual class members."

Riot is owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent. The free-to-play MOBA reportedly brings in billions of dollars in revenue every year.

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