Riot Games, the publisher behind titles like League of Legends and other things that are related to League of Legends, announced today that their internal investigation of their own CEO Nicolo Laurent has concluded. Using a third-party company to conduct the investigation, Riot states that they do not believe their own CEO has done anything wrong and do not recommend any sanctions. Against their boss. They do not recommend sanctions against their boss.
Laurent has been at the center of a fresh new sexual harassment controversy within Riot since early January, when former employee and Riot executive assistant Sharon O’Donnell filed a lawsuit alleging that Laurent had created a hostile work environment, made sexual advances against O’Donnell, and conditioned her employment on reciprocating those advances. Riot began an internal investigation, which cleared him today, according to internal emails obtained by The Washington Post.
An unnamed third-party company did the actual investigation, which was then reviewed by a special committee that has a seat on the board and only publicly names a single member, who is also an executive at Riot Games. The remaining members work at Riot parent company Tencent. This committee, upon reviewing the work of the investigation, is ultimately the body that chose not to recommend any sanctions against Laurent.
At the same time as the company cleared Laurent, Riot’s legal defense team vigorously denied O’Donnell’s claims in court, and sought to move the entire process to arbitration, where it would be handled by another third-party company rather than by judges and juries.
Look, I’m not going to pretend I know a whole lot about the corporate inner-workings of Riot, but surely getting the board that actively works with the CEO to say “Hey, he’s a good dude, for real” is suspicious to everyone, right? Whether or not O’Donnell’s allegation is accurate, the people I trust least to tell me the truth about an investigation into it are the people at Riot, who received and then interpreted a report from someone else.
For the past few years, Riot Games has found itself consistently embroiled in scandal over what employees allege has been a hostile and sexist work culture, prompting the company to acknowledge and apologize in 2019 with a promise to do better.
[Both Riot Games and Fanbyte are owned by the same parent company, Tencent.]