Last month, Riot and the lawyers representing the plaintiffs of a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit agreed to settle for $10 million, then said to be the largest gender discrimination payout in California history. The only step remaining in the process was for California’s Supreme Court to approve the settlement agreement, which at the time seemed like a foregone conclusion. Since then, two California state agencies have filed to intervene in the lawsuit, saying that Riot’s $10 million payout sucks eggs actually, that the payout should really total more than $400 million, and that the lawyers representing the plaintiffs did a real shit job of mediation, to paraphrase.
California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleges in a January 8 filing that, based on the salary discrepancies between men and women at Riot as outlined in the lawsuit, the women of the lawsuit may actually be entitled to over $400 million in back pay, far more than the agreed upon $10 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. The DFEH also expressed its befuddlement that “no enforceable changes to employment policies, at a company alleged to be rife with sexism, are part of the settlement.” Along those same lines, the agency also called out the fact that the law firm representing the plaintiffs, Rosen Saba, did not engage in discovery (read: the procurement of relevant documents from Riot) in order to accurately assess the degree to which the women of the lawsuit were underpaid. It also said that “several procedural mistakes [were made] along the way,” according to the Times.
Meanwhile, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement filed a request to intervene in the lawsuit last December, claiming again that Rosen Saba totally beefed it by arriving at the $10 million settlement agreement. It also took issue with the terms of the settlement, in that it clears Riot of wrongdoing for issues that are not addressed by the lawsuit. This lawsuit aims to recover lost wages for female employees that were not paid at the same level as male employees performing the same jobs, but the settlement also absolves Riot of unrelated labor law violations covering overtime pay and minimum wage, for example. Rosen Saba also misfiled a key legal notice regarding its pursuit of a lawsuit relating to equal pay rights under California law, according to the DLSE.
In response, both Riot’s legal counsel and Rosen Saba have filed objections, saying that everything is fine actually, and that the Supreme Court should just let Riot pay out the agreed upon $10 million. Riot obviously has strong incentives to fight for paying an apparent fraction of what might actually be owed, and I’m sure it would love to go ahead and clear its name of all wrongdoing before any further lawsuits can be brought against it. Rosen Saba is probably looking to maintain its reputation, as well as its ability to claim hero status for achieving what was originally seen as a historic payout. I’m not a lawyer though, so there may be more nefarious reasons for objecting to state interventions that seem unambiguously beneficial to your own clients.
And hey, while you’re here, you should know that Riot is owned by Tencent Holdings Limited, which also owns the company that owns Fanbyte. I’m an independent contractor though, so I’ll say whatever the Hell I want to about Riot, its trash settlement offer, the seemingly suspect performance of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, or anything else for that matter. James Joyce was a monster who contributed nothing of value to society and I’m glad he’s dead. See? No filters, baby.