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Riot Games is sued by female employees over alleged unequal pay, sexual harassment

Riot Games is sued by female employees over alleged unequal pay, sexual harassment
Riot Games' campus in West Los Angeles. (Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games)

Riot Games has been under scrutiny since employees went public this year with allegations detailing a workplace rife with sexism and harassment.

Now, the Los Angeles company behind the hugely popular “League of Legends” video game is being sued by one former and one current employee for alleged violations of the California Equal Pay Act and gender-based discrimination, retaliation and harassment.

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The suit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks class-action status and echoes the accounts of former and current employees who spoke with The Times this month, alleging that Riot Games has a “men-first” “bro culture” in which harassment and inappropriate behavior go unchecked.

Some of the behavior alleged in the suit includes crude jokes and “crotch-grabbing, phantom humping, and sending unsolicited and unwelcome pictures of male genitalia,” in addition to allegations that employees discussed in an email chain “what it would be like to ‘penetrate’ female employees” and male managers circulated a “‘hot girl’ list” ranking female employees by attractiveness.

The suit further alleges that Riot Games retaliated against outspoken female employees with “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.” It seeks monetary damages.

Riot Games spokesman Joe Hixson said the company would not comment on the lawsuit’s specific allegations but that “we can say that we take every allegation of this nature seriously and investigate them thoroughly.”

“We remain committed to a deep and comprehensive evolution of our culture to ensure Riot is a place where all Rioters thrive,” he said.

Plaintiff Jessica Negron says that she did the job of an absent manager without an increase in pay for a year, only to be passed over for the official promotion in favor of three men. The lawsuit said she has since left the company.

Plaintiff Melanie McCracken, identified as a current employee, says that she was iced out of ongoing projects this year after a senior executive at the company falsely accused her of sharing compromising photographs of him at “a dance club with scantily clad women” on a business trip to Shanghai.

“The day and age of fraternity workplaces is over,” said Ryan Saba, an attorney with Rosen Saba. “The fact that they don’t recognize it and haven’t done anything to cure it in a substantial way is unacceptable.”

The suit seeks recognition for a proposed class that includes all women currently or formerly employed by the company in California who have experienced discrimination, retaliation, or harassment in the last four years.

Riot Games, founded in 2006, has 2,500 employees, according to the company, with many in its West Los Angeles headquarters.

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