'League of Legends' Publisher to Pay $100M to Over 2000 Female Employees, Contractors

Game publisher Riot Games has agreed to pay $100 million to former employees that sued the company for gender discrimination, sexual harassment and disparity.

The settlement from the 2018 lawsuit will be dispersed through more than a thousand female employees and approximately 1,300 female contract workers. The lawsuit claimed that these employees were given unwanted sexual advances, mocking retorts from male coworkers questioning their status as gamers, and being passed over for promotions. The settlement also had Riot Games commit to improving conditions for current and future female employees.

"I am so glad we achieved this first step toward justice for the women of Riot Games," said Jes Negron, a former Riot Games employee and lawsuit plaintiff on the settlement. "I hope this case serves as an example for other studios and an inspiration for women in the industry at large. Women in gaming do not have to suffer inequity and harassment in silence — change is possible."

Riot Games is the publisher behind League of Legends, the world's most popular esports game. The game has 12 professional international leagues and houses a player base of 180 million players per month. The company recently collaborated with Netflix to create the prequel animated series Arcane, which was the 22nd most-watched series on the platform in 2021.

Riot Games
This photo illustration shows the Riot Games logo on a smartphone in front of the game "League of Legends" displayed on a computer screen in Los Angeles, December 27, 2021. Riot Games, maker of the massively popular "League of Legends," announced on December 27, 2021, it had agreed to pay 100 million USD to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. Photo by Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

An original settlement of $10 million was reached for the lawsuit in December 2019, but two California agencies—the departments of Fair Employment and Housing and Labor Standards Enforcement—opposed it based on the belief it was rushed.

New counsel was hired, and just over two years later, Monday's agreement was announced by Riot and the plaintiffs' new lawyers.

Riot has agreed to hire a third-party expert to conduct an equity analysis of its employment practices, granted pay transparency, and created a $6 million cash reserve to fund diversity, equity and inclusion programs each of the next three years, among other changes.

In a statement, Riot said the company "was at the heart of what became a reckoning in our industry" and it "hadn't always lived up to our values."

"While we're proud of how far we've come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past," it said. "We hope that this settlement properly acknowledges those who had negative experiences at Riot and demonstrates our desire to lead by example in bringing more accountability and equality to the games industry."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

League of Legends Competition
On December 28, 2021, Riot Games, the publisher behind the esports game, agreed to pay $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging pay disparity, gender discrimination and sexual harassment. Above, competitors play in a "League of Legends" championship series video game competition at the Penny Arcade Expo, a fan-centric celebration of gaming, in Seattle on August 29, 2014. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File