Riot Settles Class-Action Gender Discrimination Lawsuit for $10 Million

It's my money and I need it now!

If you’re one of the thousand-ish women that worked for League of Legends developer Riot between November of 2014 and August of this year, you may soon be on the receiving end of the largest gender discrimination payout in California history. According to court filings obtained by the Los Angeles Times and Kotaku, Riot and the plaintiffs of a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit filed last year have agreed to settle the suit for $10 million, divvied up and distributed to every woman that worked for the company during the aforementioned period. A court still needs to finalize the terms of the settlement, but that’s a formality at this point.

(Now is probably a good time to mention that Fanbyte’s parent company’s parent company, Tencent Holdings Limited, is also Riot’s parent company. I’m an independent contractor though, so I only answer to the Lord God Almighty.)

Each eligible woman will receive an amount of money based on “their tenure, [employment] length and status,” according to Kotaku, with contractors receiving less from the payout than full-time employees, according to the Times. This does mean that finalizing the settlement involves attaching a dollar value to at least a thousand women on a case-by-case basis, which feels weird since one of the specific instances of harassment cited in the lawsuit was a widely circulated internal list of female employees ranked by attractiveness, but I’m not a lawyer so what do I know.

Other grievances put forth by the lawsuit included widespread pay disparities between men and women performing the same roles, a worthless HR structure designed to protect upper management, and heavily biased hiring and promotion practices, just to name a few chart-busting singles. For its part, Riot said in a statement that “the settlement is another important step forward, and demonstrates our commitment to living up to our values and to making Riot an inclusive environment for the industry’s best talent.”

For a little perspective on how this settlement might affect Riot’s pocketbook, the company brought in somewhere around $1.4 billion in revenue in 2018 — $10 million is 0.714 percent of $1.4 billion. Tencent Holdings, meanwhile, brought in $47.2 billion in revenue in 2018, of which $10 million is 0.021 percent. If I were Riot and I were to pay an equivalent amount of money from my own personal annual revenue, I’d be out $228.48 for my systematic oppression of at least a thousand women around the world. If I were Tencent, I’d be out $6.77.

Riot must be super duper committed to change if it’s willing to fork over a whole 2007 Toyota Corolla’s monthly payment, just to prove how dang serious it is about fixing its pervasive workplace harassment issues. Never mind that many of the upper management named in the lawsuit are still gainfully employed at Riot, or that Riot continues to demand forced arbitration for related lawsuits that aren’t part of this specific class action. The executive suite might have to switch from caviar to salmon roe for a day, isn’t that proof enough of their deep obligation to reducing the chance of future lawsuits providing a better environment for employees?

Update: According to former Riot employee Jessie Perlo, those who accepted severance upon their departure from Riot are not be eligible to receive payout from this lawsuit.