A California gender discrimination lawsuit against a prominent gaming company has been approved for settlement at $100 million, to be split (after legal costs) among 1,000 employees (current and former) employed by the firm in 2018. The deal was approved by the court following allegations of widespread sexism and gender-based harassment. It follows a previous $10 million proposed settlement in 2019 that the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing rejected as inadequate. (The agency estimated the company could easily owe female employees upwards of $400 million for misconduct.)
Plaintiffs in the case described a “toxic” on-the-job culture at Riot Games, a $1.6 billion tech firm with rampant “bro culture,” rife with harassment, sexism, and discrimination. In August 2018, gaming news site Kotaku published an expose detailing how problematic the company culture had become.
Some of the anecdotes detailed:
- Female employees were described as “too punchy,” “not gamer enough,” “too emotional,” “too aggressive,” “too ambitious” or having “too much ego” to be leaders at the company.
- Supervisors would ask female employees if it was tough to work there while “being so cute.”
- Supervisors would comment in public meetings about how the husbands and kids of female employees must really miss them while they were at work.
- The idea of a female worker fell flat during a meeting. A male colleague, skeptical of her claim of sexism, agreed to present the same idea in the same manner to the same group at another meeting a few days later. The reception this time around was that this idea was “amazing.”
- Women alleged they worked jobs above their title and pay grade, believing they were being groomed for a promotion, only to have a male employee suddenly brought in to replace them.
- Constant, unsolicited exposure to images of male genitalia displayed by male supervisors.
- A female worker was accidentally CC’d on an internal group e-mail in which a male co-worker indicated he’d like to sleep with her and then never call her again.
While the company has always stressed its commitment to hiring only gamers, female prospective hires were met with a degree of skepticism on this that male prospective hires were not. Interviewers routinely questioned whether women could truly be “core gamers.”
As this case was moving through the court system, other accounts of misconduct at similar game makers, such as Activision and Ubisoft, were revealed.
Gender disparities in gaming company employment are not a new revelation. Women for years have been speaking out – in the press and on social media – about the physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse of these workplaces, where they’ve been routinely treated as inferior to male colleagues. But legal consequences against employers have been historically rare. This win represents a potential shift.
California gender discrimination is a violation of the California Fair Pay Act, which prohibits employers from paying workers disparately on the basis of gender. It also against both state and federal law for an employer to discriminate against a person in any aspect of employment on the basis of sex or gender. Sexual harassment falls under that umbrella as well.
If you believe you have been the target of gender discrimination in Southern California, we can help.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Newport Beach, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
California court approves $100 million settlement in Riot Games discrimination suit, July 26, 2022, By Sam Desatoff, GameDaily.biz
More Blog Entries:
Overturning of Roe v. Wade: What Workers Need to Know, July 13, 2022, Los Angeles Employment Discrimination Lawyer Blog