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State of California investigates Riot for systematic gender discrimination

State of California investigates Riot for systematic gender discrimination

June 13, 2019 | By Chris Kerr




The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has filed an investigation enforcement action against League of Legends maker Riot Games. 

The DFEH is looking to obtain Riot's employee pay data as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged systematic gender discrimination at the studio, and explained the developer has so far refused to fully comply with its efforts.

"Riot Games has refused to provide the Department with adequate information for DFEH to analyze whether women are paid less than men at the company," reads a press release. 

"The DFEH seeks the information as part of an investigation into alleged unequal pay, sexual harassment, sexual assault, retaliation, and gender discrimination in selection and promotion."

Riot has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons for some time. Last year, several current and former employees spoke out against the studio for fostering a toxic and discriminatory workplace that created a feedback culture which rewarded men and demeaned women. 

Towards the end of 2018, Riot Games COO Scot Gleb was suspended without pay for two months after multiple staffers claimed he interacted with them in a number of inappropriate ways as part of a "comedy bit." 

Then, earlier this year, the studio came under fire again for ignoring calls to scrap mandatory arbitration for all employees, with staffers even staging a mass walkout over the company's inaction

With regards to the DFEH's current investigation into Riot's workplace practices, group director Kevin Kish explained the department has decided to seek assistance from the courts because of the developer's failure to cooperate voluntarily. 

"When companies fail to cooperate voluntarily with our investigations, including with our investigative discovery, DFEH will exercise its right to seek assistance from the courts. Doing so ensures our investigations are informed by relevant evidence and completed without unnecessary delay." 

Riot, however, claims the DFEH has itself been unresponsive. In a statement handed to Kotaku, the company  said it had so far "cooperated in good faith" with the DFEH, and has supplied the department with "several thousand lines" of employee pay data.

"We've been in active conversations with the DFEH since its inquiry began. During this time, we’ve promptly responded to the DFEH’s requests, and have produced over 2,500 pages of documents and several thousand lines of pay data so far," explained Riot. 

"We've also made several recent requests that the DFEH participate in a call with us to address their requests. To date, these requests have been unanswered, so we’re frankly disappointed to see the DFEH issue a press release alleging that we’ve been non-cooperative.

"We’re confident that we’ve made substantial progress on diversity, inclusion, and company culture, and look forward to continue demonstrating this to the DFEH."



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