If you recall about three months ago, Kotaku released a giant report on the toxic “bro” culture within their company. Riot Games owned up to it and took actual concrete efforts to fix themselves (which would have been great before they were outed, but whatever). This lead to new panels, new ‘work culture experts’, and new internal projects. They even laid off or fired problem employees. Not always the most problematic employees, but it was a few steps in the right direction.
But they weren’t enough, and they weren't sincere. Because now one former and one current employee are taking Riot Games to court, saying that "Riot Games is simply sweeping these allegations under the rug with empty investigations and counseling, while protecting bad actors from any repercussion."
The lawsuit is being put forward by Melanie McCracken and Jessica Negron, who not only reference issues brought to attention by the Kotaku article, but to new allegations of even more extreme behaviors. This includes email chains discussing which Female Riot Employee is “hottest”, unsolicited dick pics being sent to female employees, female workers routinely being passed up for promotions – with some managers going out of their way to keep them demoted - despite being asked to tend to tasks above their pay grade, and most shocking of all: an actual rape. Apparently, one higher-up in Riot actually drugged and raped another employee and was protected by the company.
Which I should point out has not been verified yet.
The plaintiffs are seeking damages that include wages (salary, bonuses, and stock), putative damages, statutory and civil penalties, as well as legal fees. They also asked that California expressly forbid them from violating labor laws by refusing to pay female employees as much as their male counterparts.
Riot Games, for their part, did not actively refute the claims being made against them, saying:
"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."
Needless to say, if any part of this long list of allegations is true, it warrants legal action. I hope justice is served, at the end of the day, and the whole of the industry pays attention: because I doubt Riot is the only studio guilty of this stuff.
Although it would be fantastic if they were.