Top Riot Executive Suspended Without Pay Following Investigation Over Workplace Misconduct

Earlier this week, Riot’s CEO sent an email to employees describing the punishment its COO, Scott Gelb, will face after multiple employees alleged that, as a comedy bit, he has repeatedly touched subordinates’ balls or butt or farted in their faces.

Several employees tell Kotaku that his punishment - two months of unpaid leave and training - is far from satisfactory.

An eight-month Kotaku investigation, informed by interviews with dozens of current and former employees, revealed that Riot Games has fostered a culture of sexism.

The company, which is 80 per cent male and has 2,500 employees, has an alleged history of passing up qualified women for promotions, holding female job candidates to a higher standard and perpetuating a “bro culture” of bathroom humour and alleged sexual misconduct.

Throughout Kotaku’s interviews, one name kept cropping up: Scott Gelb, Riot Games’ COO, whom current and former employees allege participated in “ball-tapping” (flicking or slapping testicles), farting on employees or humping them for comedic effect. “It just became so normal,” said one employee who witnessed Gelb’s behaviour.

Another added, “The ball grabbing and things like that - that was absolutely well known across the board.” Other former employees who witnessed this believed that this style of bro comedy trickled down into the company’s lower ranks, where employees comfortably settled into a fraternity mindset that has, sources say, disadvantaged women.

In response to Kotaku’s investigation, Riot put out several statements reaffirming its mission to set right the company’s reported wrongs.

In an August blog post, Riot wrote, “We are prepared to make big changes and have begun taking action against specific cases, including removal of Rioters, though we aren’t likely to get into those details publicly on a case-by-case basis for legal and privacy reasons,” adding, “No one and nothing is sacred.” Riot has also made adjustments to its leadership that, in theory, should help make diversity a focus. As of September, Gelb remained at the company while other employees whom sources allege also participated in Riot Games’ so-called “bro culture” had left.

You can read all about that here.

Kotaku learned this week that Riot did in fact investigate Gelb. In an email sent on Monday to Riot employees, CEO Nicolo Laurent explained that, after an investigation led by law firm Seyfarth Shaw and overseen by a special committee from its Board of Directors, Gelb will remain at the company. He will, however, be put on two-month unpaid leave and receive training. Laurent explained in the email:

“As I have mentioned, we are committed to protecting Rioters’ privacy and the integrity of the investigation process. This means that you will not hear me or any other leader discuss individual cases.

“Having said that, we made a very rare exception in the case of our COO, Scott Gelb. There are factors that collectively drive this exception. The Special Committee of the Board of Directors has specifically requested that one of Scott’s consequences be highly visible.

Scott holds one of the most senior roles at Riot and is held to a higher level of accountability and visibility, therefore certain consequences are going to be very visible to Rioters. It’s for these reasons I feel it’s necessary to make an exception.”

Before detailing Gelb’s punishment, Laurent said that “Many of the rumours circulating about Scott within the company, in the media and other channels, are not true.”

Kotaku has not received any corrections from Riot regarding our continued reporting, and when we asked Riot specifically what claims were “untrue,” a representative declined to comment further.

Later in the email, Laurent went on to say that “There were claims made about Scott engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour, particularly during the early days of Riot. And some of these claims were, in fact, substantiated. The conduct alleged in these claims is not acceptable.”

Laurent concluded: “Scott could have avoided owning his past and his consequences. He could have left Riot. Scott chose ownership and redemption. I will root for him, will support him through this journey, and will leverage him as a great leader when he returns next year. I hope you will join me.”

Several current Riot employees interviewed by Kotaku are furious about Riot’s response to its COO’s conduct. “I think it’s pretty telling that Riot’s commitment to changing their culture only goes as far as firing people who aren’t already insulated from the repercussions of that culture,” said one, who is anonymous for fear of repercussions. “For Riot leadership, protecting their awful friends matters more than protecting their vulnerable employees.

And that isn’t going to change unless the workers do something about it directly.” One other current employee described the two-month unpaid leave and training as “a tiny slap on the wrist. . . I think this is also not respectful towards people that were hurt or offended by his behaviour.”

Another current employee, who believes that Gelb should be “demoted or outright fired,” told Kotaku that unpaid leave may barely feel like punishment to somebody who likely made loads of money off his early involvement in Riot.

On top of that, she added, “This person is in charge of a lot of people and it’s clear that he has giant lapses in judgment. . . I would say across the board it’s pretty unsatisfying.”

Riot Games’ apparently dogged quest to dig into its roots to remove or mend the sources of its employees’ discriminatory behaviour has, in instances like this, hit some rocks.


Comments

    So they fire low/mid level employees who clap back at rude and offensive fans over social media, but suspend top-tier leaders who sexually assault other employees...

      Business as usual for a shitty company run by shitty people.

      Well for starters one requires an investigation as allegations are usually made historically while the stuff on social media is there to be seen by all immediately.

        The investigation is done, the suspension is the outcome.

      So they fire low/mid level employees who clap back at rude and offensive fans over social media,

      More than likely these employees had a clause in their contract/ Companies rules relating to Social media. Breaking that rule resulted in a dismissal

      but suspend top-tier leaders who sexually assault other employees...
      These people are suspended pending an investigation. Firing them on the spot opens them up to litigation in the event the person is found innocent.

        My read of it was the investigation was done, and the punishment is the suspension.

        Anyway, my main point was the disparity between the punishments. If Riot wants to be tough and fire social media managers and the like for breaching policy, that's fine, but they can't reasonably argue this Scott dude's infractions deserve a lesser punishment in my opinion.

          they aren't arguing that he deserves lesser punishment they are just fkn telling you he gets less i think this is an important distinction.

    Eeww sounds ghastly. I used to work in an industry that worked like that, thankfully now, all the dinosaurs and all the juveniles have either gone extinct or grown the hell up. people just come to work, do their job, have a laugh without the fear of stupidity and abuse hanging over their heads.

    Throughout Kotaku’s interviews, one name kept cropping up: Scott Gelb, Riot Games’ COO, whom current and former employees allege participated in “ball-tapping” (flicking or slapping testicles), farting on employees or humping them for comedic effect. “It just became so normal,” said one employee who witnessed Gelb’s behaviour.

    Another added, “The ball grabbing and things like that - that was absolutely well known across the board.” Other former employees who witnessed this believed that this style of bro comedy trickled down into the company’s lower ranks, where employees comfortably settled into a fraternity mindset that has, sources say, disadvantaged women.

    Men assaulted by boss however women affected most. Ok.

      women affected most

      Sorry, I may have missed it. Where does this article imply this?

        it doesn't really, but if you read the article it goes from ball grabbing> bro culture> effects women you can understand how people are not disconnecting the ball grabbing.

        i believe the intention was bro culture = harmful to women which is probably true but the idea that this was the only reason for any female to be passed over is obviously not true given they did have women in high positions.

          But this is not what this article is aiming to say, hence my question to Simocrates to elaborate on his unsubstantiated claim. If you reread carefully the article, you'll realise that women were only mentioned /twice/. Once in an introductory paragraph meant to establish Riot's now well-known terrible inside culture, and another to explain how the abuses discussed in this article may relate to previous reports focused on sexist behaviour.

          Note that while improper "ball grabbing" is abusive behaviour that can only be inflicted on men, butt grabbing and farting can be inflicted on anybody. Still, the article focused on the acts themselves for the most part, rather than on the ways it affects different genders. Simocrates often scoffs at articles regarding sexism against women, so I was pointing out that he was misinterpreting this article to be about that just to be able to scoff at it.

    Only two months? Sounds like a ball slap on the wrist.

    did nobody else notice all the people bitching about his punishment are not his victims just other rando's, also can't help noticing that they went out of their way to make a deal about how much hes probably earned as well. seems there is some jealousy mixed in here.

    if i remember correctly riot did not promise to investigate and fire everybody they promised to investigate and take action they have done so.

    they also said that the investigation resulted in the conclusion that the accusations leveled at this dude were not all true, not at all surprising since many of them were made by ex-employees that also wanted to remain anonymous if you can't smell some bullshit coming from that...... well

    besides it's america they can still take him to civil court if they aren't satisfied, the actual victims that is not the loudmouth rando's kotaku was probably beating away with a stick while trying to investigate this themselves. and lets be realistic for a moment the only thing we know he did for sure was grab some guys balls and society on the whole couldn't give a fuck less about that.

      Society might not give a fuck about it but individuals do, and as members of the society, they may force it to give it too. That's how you enable change at the societal level.

        really because there are a lot of people who have been trying to do this and all they get for the trouble is labeled as misogynists or u just hate women or your a Nazi. if you have seen any of the ads for the recent domestic violence campaign you will know they are disgusting man hating bullshit. despite the fact we have known for years that the majority of domestic abuse situations are actually both parties attacking each other we as a society run an anti men campaign, how long are we allowed to wait before we come to the logical conclusion that mens issues will always be ignored?

          we have known for years that the majority of domestic abuse situations are actually both parties attacking each othe

          Prove this statement with hard sources, now. I'll agree with you that we must allow facts and not emotions to change our minds. So provide here the facts that back this claim and I'll change my mind. But if you fail to provide them because you find that in fact, all studies reveal that domestic violence is disproportionately higher from males to females, then be honest with yourself and attempt to change your mind.

            i think your not understanding what im saying the majority of domestic abuse goes both ways meaning more than 50% i think its slightly over 65% the remaining minority is made up mostly of men hitting women. i think you thought i was making the claim that men don't commit more domestic violence which is not what i was saying. i couldn't find the numbers i had originally because they don't include sexual violence which is probably another reason these numbers don't sound right to you. The original link was from a youtube video which i guess is now in restricted mode and i cant get it now im at work.

            so i don't need to change my mind you need to understand what im saying and you also need to understand that this is propaganda, by which i mean the numbers your given always include sexual violence but never the emotional and psychological abuse women tend to use i actually can't even find data on the latter. The domestic violence problem is in part poisoned by feminist activists making sure it sounds worse than it is to keep themselves employed. that how u get bullshit like the 1/4 rape statistic for college campuses in america, some of the "domestic violence" stats for Australia you know the really shocking ones include being yelled at or feeling threatened.

            so no i dont need to change my mind and i never said anything about domestic violence not being predominately committed by men i just like to remind people that in reality the violence side of the issue is more often a two way street than not. like that twitch streamer incident, dont get me wrong hes a piece of shit but after watching it again i noticed he asked her to leave him alone over 30 times and she threw shit at him 4 times before he hit her the first time. did you notice any of that or did you immediately judge the situation as another man beating on his woman the way your programmed to.

              Ok, first thing is that you are conflating two different things. I understand that non-physical domestic violence is real and that in that respect women have a higher share of the blame than they do in the physical category (more on this later). I also understand that this fact is less talked about than physical violence. However, that doesn't mean that physical violence is an overblown issue and that attention given to it should be sacrificed to give the other one attention as well. To begin with, physical domestic violence is much more likely to result in death! It's not "propaganda" to focus on one issue and not talk about a related issue when the existence of the latter doesn't preclude the significance of the former. It's called "addressing a problem at a time, starting with the most pressing one" or also "why don't you focus on that other one instead of criticising me for focusing on this one"?

              I was able to find a source that corroborates many of the points you present: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2968709/ However, check it out for some important points that you left out such as: 1) violence committed by women are more likely to be motivated by self-defense or fear for their lives, 2) in cases where violence is mutual, women are much more likely to experience worse negative effects (including death) than men, and 3) violence perpetrated by women (physical or psychological) cause, overall, less serious permanent damage than violence committed by men.

              Look, I'm not trying to wave away that women /can/ perpetrate abuse, especially of the psychological kind. I share with you a distaste for its lack of awareness and discussion. However, I do not believe that that awareness must come at the cost of awareness and action against an objectively worst issue, or even less that the lack of awareness of the former somehow proves that the latter is being overblown and overstated.

              Check this other two sources: https://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/ and https://ncadv.org/statistics. The numbers don't lie: if it could be said that violence against women was somehow over-inflated, we wouldn't have these appalling numbers. Only by actively hating women one could argue that domestic violence against women (of any kind) is an issue which exposure and calls to action need to be toned down. It is still a very real and appallingly prevalent issue! You totally could advocate for abused men without trying to diminish the issue of abused women. Or, I guess, you could call the numbers "feminist bullshit" without providing a verifiable source to prove either the forgery of the numbers nor the allegedly correct ones?

              Last, let's analyze this quote of yours "The domestic violence problem is in part poisoned by feminist activists making sure it sounds worse than it is to keep themselves employed." This, I'm sure you agree, is an assumption of yours, as you simply cannot provide evidence for it. It is one, though, that betrays a profound bias. You assume that feminists are disingenuous and self-interested. You assume that it means that their data is skewed. You conclude that the whole discourse is then, poisoned and untrustworthy. In sum, you are clearly prejudiced against feminism which in turn, allows you to dismiss the very proof that it is necessary, in circular logic.

                i have typed like 3 replies but this shitbox website isnt letting me leave comments and it is not giving me a reason!!!!!!!
                ok retyping my damn response sorry this will take a while

                Last edited 01/01/19 2:42 pm

                i do not agree that im wrongly assuming anything about the poisonous man-hating harpies representing the current 3rd wave of feminism that are given the overwhelming majority of airtime nowadays, they are doing nothing other than muddying the water to secure long term employment, nothing would be worse for these people than solving all the issues women face today. i do not hate feminists in fact there are many strident feminists i have a lot of respect for i hate the people mentioned above, the problem is "real" feminists barely ever make it onto a mainstream platform.

                "women are more likely to use violence in self defense" you used phrase while bending over backwards to defend the actions of ADULT WOMEN. well women are more likely to use weapons this leads to men using violence for self defense and some of them have never been violent with their spouse beforehand, do you see how this issue is much deeper than the surface level bullshit we are spoon fed. (PS self defense is fine but if does go both ways)

                follow me friend on a short tangential journey, if i throw shit at a snake and poke it and wont leave it alone nobody blames the snake when it bites me. Now back again to that twitch streamer i feel a need to say now i think hes a piece of shit and he should not have hit his wife before i get straw-manned as advocating for wife-beating or some bullshit(not by you), at the same time if you are throwing shit at someone and ignoring them saying leave me alone you are in part responsible for the outcome, i think it is very disrespectful to treat women like this like they have no responsibility. This guy needs counseling to help him deal with his temper and the wife needed to be publicly reprimanded for her actions that obviously contributed to this horrible course of events, in my opinion given the repeated request to be left alone and the fact she went out of her way to say on stream "he just hit me" i think this is the outcome she was aiming for, clearly she has no respect for his job being a streamer but good news there hes banned. lost his job and facing charges for domestic abuse i think we can see who won this fight.(i admit this is hyberbolic and possibly not entirely accurate)

                The data presented is skewed mate not the data u provided which i very briefly looked over it seems to be legitimate. But the data given to us my the mainstream media like on channel 7 when they got some man-hating hambeast on to tell us all about domestic violence stats being "on the rise" her stats included all sexual assault meaning not even just inter spousal assault it also included Victorian police stats, well i looked those up and it is comprised of every report taken including things like "made to feel unsafe during a heated argument" that is not domestic violence, but i feel the need to also state that it is not okay to make your spouse feel threatened during an argument because if i don't nobody gives the benefit of the doubt u know hwo it goes.

                Given that the domestic violence problem is being treated as if it completely at the feet of men to fix themselves and don't even try to deny that is how it is framed. From the ads to the way politicians stand on the corpses or murdered women virtue signalling about how they care about women's issues just to get reelected, to everyone on social media virtue signalling "look how great i am i care about women". Most of these people yourself included probably don't realise that this campaign will never work because it isn't even designed to work, nobody ever asks the question how did two people end up in this situation its just "man bad man bad". the politicians know it's not going to work just like every other quick fix bullshit solution they come up with it's just enough to make it seem like Australia is fighting domestic violence, well fucking yay us aren't we great.

                We have situations where women seeking help don't get shit till after it escalates into murder and other situations where a women can just call the police every time she wants her man out the house because the default for domestic violence calls is to remove the male regardless of the circumstances this has happened to my brother more than 8 times (i stopped counting at 8). I don't pretend i know the solution but i can say that as long as we don't look at the issue logically and deeply we will never solve it as proved by the fact that it still fkn happens and may actually be getting worse. what we have been doing is not working and continuing to view this stuff from the same shallow perspective that leads to the current ineffectual policies and guidelines will result in what?? bugger all

                The feminist lunatics we currently have deeply involved in this issue must be cut out of the national conversation, we have heard them out their ideas are shit and that's enough we don't ask white nationalists for their input on immigration. We need to stop shamming men in general for this and realise that first off it is only certain men and secondly women involved in domestic violence may not always just be victims and may also bear responsibility for the situation.

                again i feel the need to state i do not hate women or feminists just certain men and women that call themselves feminists who are just shitty humans. the only other people i hate in all this ironically is men who hit their wives and while i can intellectually distinguish the reality that some men are just defending themselves and sometimes there are even men being beaten by their wives, but because of the way i was raised and the media i consume living in Australia, viscerally i "feel" that the man deserved it if hes being beaten by his spouse and that if a man beats his wife that piece of shit should be buried underneath the prison, this is clearly not helpful. How much of your beliefs surrounding this subject are really your own beliefs and not the direct result of a narrative spun before us by a 3 headed beast comprised of culture, media and government with what appears to be the express purpose of making everyone feel better about a domestic violence issue none of them are prepared to do the work necessary to address. it is after all a disturbing subject to engage with.

                now imagine what would happen to me if i said this on mainstream tv... id probably be fired because my employer would be accused of agreeing with and endorsing my "misogyny" while I'm simultaneously hounded off social media and any other public platform because they wouldn't actually hear a word i said i do know that you are not like that which is why i like this website. =D

                  The problem is that you set yourself as the arbiter of what is "good" and what is "bad" feminism and then use your own categorisation of "bad" to justify making assumptions about their motivations, goals, and reasons. Don't you realise that that's precisely one of the reasons why feminism exists and is necessary?: To stop men from telling women the "proper" way to act, react and behave.

                  As I've mentioned in the past, I know as a fact that there are truly toxic and even malevolent feminists; however, I'll always advocate for a case-by-case judgment of such suspicions. If you think that certain individuals are noxious to society and the whole feminism discourse, I would agree with you on the premise and then on a more detailed examination. But when you figure that a massive swath of people are wrong, you need to take a step back and wonder whether you may be the one on the wrong side--rather than imagining motivations such as greed and hatred in order to be able to dismiss them.

                  Next point: We have agreed that there's physical and psychological violence and that indeed, the latter could use more exposure and that in that category, there's not such a big disproportion between genders of the perpetrators. However, the next thing I'd like to reach an agreement on is that escalation is never excusable:

                  If somebody has a spouse who is abusive (either physically or psychologically), the best, most recommended choice is to walk away (escape, if necessary) and inform the authorities to deal with it if the gravity of the abuse merits it. The second, less recommendable but at least, understandable alternative is to stay and respond in kind. It will not solve anything, but at least it's "fair" in a twisted sense. The third and execrable choice is to escalate. Escalation is a slippery slope that cannot possibly end well and which switches the roles of victim and perpetrator until somebody goes too far.

                  Case in point, the video of the streamer physically bashing his wife. Yes, you can see his wife berating, insulting and throwing small things at him. Imagine a reality where the streamer remained calm, or ended the stream and walked away. Don't you think that the woman would have been the one to be publicly shamed and condemned? But by losing his cool and escalating the matter into physical violence, he became the worst of them both and called in plausible suspicions regarding the behaviour of the woman (i.e. the possibility that it was merely the outcome of months or years of abuse effectuated by him, which, needs to be said, is statistically likely.)

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