The State Of California Is Investigating Riot Games For Gender Discrimination [Update: Riot Responds]

Riot Games’ offices. (Photo: Chris Yunker/Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said today that it is filing an investigation enforcement suit against League of Legends publisher Riot Games, as part of an investigation into gender discrimination at the company.

The DFEH is asking the courts to compel Riot to provide employees’ pay information for “an ongoing investigation into alleged gender discrimination,” according to a press release issued on Wednesday afternoon by the department. It said that it is looking into “alleged unequal pay, sexual harassment, sexual assault, retaliation, and gender discrimination in selection and promotion.”

While the investigation began in October 2018, the DFEH said that Riot has so far “refused to provide the Department with adequate information for DFEH to analyse whether women are paid less than men at the company,” which is why it is now filing the suit.

In the suit, the DFEH says that Riot has “impeded” the investigation by withholding “basic employment data that ... employment laws require employers to maintain.” The DFEH said it has met with Riot numerous times but has been unable to reach a solution without involving the courts.

Last year, Kotaku published an investigation into these issues at Riot. After the investigation, Riot promised to cleanse house of bad actors, and has made several moves to rectify its employees’ behaviour and structural issues that, according to dozens of sources, have disadvantaged women in the workplace.

Last month, however, over 150 employees in Riot’s Los Angeles office staged a walkout, the first such action in the history of game development, protesting the company’s decision to force arbitration against two of the five current or former employees suing the company for allegedly violating California’s Equal Pay Act.

This is a developing story. Kotaku has reached out to Riot for a response and will update the story accordingly.

Update: Riot has shared a response with Kotaku, which is below.

We’ve been in active conversations with the DFEH since its inquiry began. Investigations like this can arise when there have been allegations of workplace disparity and we’ve been cooperating in good faith with the DFEH to address its concerns. 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. 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.


    I hope a whole lotta asses get nailed to the wall as a result. Sick of corporations seeing laws - designed to protect people - as 'timid suggestions' or nuisances to work around the letter of, while thoroughly fucking violating the spirit.

      You damn entitled slaves, we treated you like family!!

    Lol, the statement from Riot is not doing them any favours.
    "We did everything asked of us.....but we haven't done everything asked of us because the investigators won't talk to us about not having to do everything asked of us!!"

      IKR. If they had co-operated, why is a lawsuit necessary?

      Beginning to think most game companies are compulsive lairs, I blame Trump.

      haha so true. My favourite bit was:
      "We’ve been in active conversations with the DFEH since its inquiry began." followed almost immediately by "To date, these requests (that the DFEH participate in a call to address their requests) have been unanswered"

      This part says it all:

      and have produced over 2,500 pages of documents and several thousand lines of pay data

      When you've handed over everything, you don't use absolute numbers. Instead you say "we've handed over everything they asked of us". You only use absolute numbers when you want to hide the fact you haven't fully complied, but want people to think it sounds like a lot.

      For example:
      "You haven't paid your staff the minimum wage." ($720 per week)
      "We have produced for our employees over 40,000 cents a week, and we're disappointed that the Fair Work Commission isn't recognising the substantial progress we're demonstrating by having done so."

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