Riot sued over gender discrimination

Riot Games is the developer of one of the biggest games in the world, League of Legends. Courtesy of Riot

A Beverly Hills law firm filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Riot Games on Tuesday on behalf of women who have worked for or are currently employed by the League of Legends developer.

According to the class action lawsuit led by Rosen Saba, LLP, the plaintiffs are seeking damages "for violations of the California Equal Pay Act and for discrimination, retaliation and harassment because of their sex/gender." The suit comes following an August report by Kotaku that revealed a pervasive "bro culture" at the company, phrasing that Rosen Saba cited in its lawsuit.

"These women were denied equal pay and opportunities and were discouraged from speaking out by threats of termination," the law firm said in a statement. "This lawsuit allows them the opportunity to have their voices heard. We hope more women have the courage to step forward and speak out against Riot Games. The days of sexually charged, men-first, fraternity-type work environments are over."

The plaintiffs in the case include Melanie McCracken, who is a current Riot employee and internal communications/experiential strategist at Riot Games, according to her LinkedIn profile. She has been with the company since 2013. A former employee, Jessica Negron, is also a plaintiff in the suit.

The suit has a number of goals outside of compensation for damages, according to the Tuesday filing to the Superior Court of the State of California. Among the items the suit hopes to stop, according to the document, are Riot's alleged practices of:

1. Paying women less than similarly-situated men
2. Assigning women to jobs that Riot Games does not compensate as highly as those jobs populated by men, even when women are equally qualified for the more highly compensated jobs.
3. Promoting similarly-situated and qualified men more frequently than women who are equally or more qualified for promotion.
4. Assigning or demoting women to lower-paid positions than similarly-situated men, even when these women's qualifications were equal to or greater than the men's qualifications.
5. Creating, encouraging and maintaining a work environment that exposes its female employees to discrimination, harassment and retaliation on the basis of their gender or sex.

Among the examples of this behavior in the suit is Negron's claim that a former supervisor, Geoff Chandler, once told her "diversity should not be a focal point of the design of Riot Games' products because gaming culture is the last remaining safe haven for white teen boys." Chandler, according to his LinkedIn profile, is still with the company.

Riot Games reiterated a previous statement Thursday that it has "taken action against employees at various levels of the organization, from entry to senior level.

"Actions can range, but options include exits (either terminations or resignations), probation, professional improvement plans, targeted coaching, etc." Riot said in a statement. "There are also still numerous investigations underway and others that are nearing their conclusions."

Riot could not give specific comment on elements of the lawsuit but confirmed it will be filing a response in the future. Riot corporate communications lead Joe Hixson also provided a statement in regard to the class action.

"While we do not discuss the details of ongoing litigation, we can say that we take every allegation of this nature seriously and investigate them thoroughly," Hixson said in a statement. "We remain committed to a deep and comprehensive evolution of our culture to ensure Riot is a place where all Rioters thrive."