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article imageOne of the biggest video game companies sued for 'bro-culture'

By Business Insider     Nov 7, 2018 in Business
League of Legends developer Riot Games is facing a class-action lawsuit claiming the company harbored a sexist work environment with women suffering from unequal pay and regular harassment.
Reports detailing the company's "bro culture" surfaced in August 2018, leading Riot to issue an apology to current and past employees.
The two women who filed the lawsuit detailed multiple instances of inappropriate behavior, including a list of "Hottest Women Employees" and unsolicited photos of male genitalia.
Months after reports accused League of Legends developer Riot Games of fostering a sexist work environment, two employees, one former and one current, have filed a class action lawsuit against the company for discrimination and harassment. In the complaint filed with the California Superior Court in Los Angeles, the plaintiffs claim that Riot denied them equal pay and blocked their career advancements on the basis of gender.
Both plaintiffs are women and claim that Riot's focus on male-dominated video game culture led to sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace. A copy of the complaint obtained by GMG Group directly references an investigative report from Kotaku detailing the experiences of more than two dozen Riot employees, many of whom share the same criticism. Riot acknowledged that the company's emphasis on "gamer" culture resulted in gendered discrimination after the report was released in August.
Representatives for the plaintiffs, Jessica Negron and Melanie McCracken, claim the "core gamer" identity emphasized by Riot is explicitly male and was used to disqualify women from recruitment and promotions. Furthermore, they allege that women have been assigned to lower paying jobs while less qualified men receive more frequent promotions. The lawsuit also claims women in the workplace are subjected to additional criticism, harassment, and retaliation based on gender.
"Women are required to participate and tolerate crude male humor which include jokes about sex, defecation, masturbation, rape, and torture. Women who do not join in these adolescent humor jokes are classified as 'snobby' and unwilling to fit in with the company," the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit offers several specific examples of how Riot's "bro culture" negatively impacted female employees. According to the claim, one of the plaintiffs counted male Riot Games using the work dick more than 500 times during a single month. Other employees were shown unsolicited photos of male genitalia, and one woman found an email chain in which coworkers discussed what it would be like to "penetrate her." The claim states there is an ongoing email chain of "Riot Games Hottest Women Employees" that rates female employees.
Basic work dynamics allegedly suffered as well, as the plaintiffs said women are frequently talked over during meetings and have their ideas dismissed. Riot Games CEO and co-founder Brandon Beck allegedly used the phrase "no doesn't necessarily mean no" as a slogan for the company during an internal meeting.
One plaintiff said her supervisor told her, "Diversity should not be a focal point of the design of Riot Games' products because gaming culture is the last remaining safe-haven for white teen boys."
When asked to comment on the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Riot Games offered the following statement:
"While we do not discuss the details of ongoing litigation, 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. We've shared our progress here: https://www.riotgames.com/en/how-were-evolving."
Since the initial reports of sexism surfaced in August, Riot has been detailing their efforts to combat sexism and discrimination within the company. This includes bringing in third-party consultants to help redefine the company culture, and sharing a timeline of actionable steps to make that change happen.
Still, regardless of what steps are being made to fix the problem, Riot will need to answer the allegations of past discrimination in court. Both plaintiffs are seeking damages for multiple instances of discrimination and harassment, as well as violations of California's Equal Pay Act. The court will need to certify the lawsuit in order for it to become class action.
This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2018.
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