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Riot Says It Puts Employees on Leave ‘When Necessary’ After Toxic Behavior Report

Riot declined to confirm whether chief operating officer Scott Gelb, named in a Kotaku report about alleged toxic behavior at the company, is under investigation or on administrative leave, but the “League of Legend” creator did tell Variety that it “[has], and will, put Rioters on administrative leave when necessary.”

“We’re not commenting on any individual at any level on personnel matters,” a representative told Variety. “It’s the ethical thing to do, plus it’s the law.” But, the company did say administrative leave is the first thing it considers when an investigation starts, although it’s not a decision it makes lightly.

The statement comes one day after Kotaku published a new report on alleged behavior at Riot involving Gelb. Sources told Kotaku that Gelb has a reputation at the company. He’s been known to allegedly fart on coworkers, tap male coworkers genitals, and sometimes hump colleagues for comedic effect.

Some current and former Riot Games employees say they’re skeptical the company will truly hold itself accountable for a company culture many remains toxic and sexist.

Riot told Variety that the decision to place an employee on administrative leave as part of an investigation varies.

“This decision is based on a number of factors, but every decision is unique and complex,” the Riot representative said. “In every case these decisions are personal and highly confidential, so I can’t discuss why a decision was made or even that a decision process existed for any case. To be clear, our top priority in every case is the well-being of all Rioters involved and maintaining the integrity of the investigation. I will say though that we have, and will, put Rioters on administrative leave when it’s necessary.”

Riot said it’s working to eradicate the behaviors described in Kotaku’s story, and it assures people that accountability starts at the top. “We have systems in place to ensure we apply the same level of rigor to all investigations, regardless of the seniority of those involved,” it said. It’s created a special committee comprised of two non-Riot directors and Youngme Moon, an internationally recognized business leader, professor, and expert on corporate governance. The committee’s mandate is to oversee and review everything related to Riot’s diversity and inclusivity initiatives and cultural transformation, along with the performance of Riot’s senior management on these efforts.

Riot also recently hired former Uber executive Frances Frei to help navigate changes at the company. According to Frei, “Riot isn’t interested simply in fixing problems on the surface, they have an ambition to be an industry leader and to provide a roadmap for others to follow. I share that ambition and am eager to help them navigate this process.”

“This cultural evolution remains Riot’s first priority and we strongly agree that this change needs to start at the top and we hold that everyone accountable,” Riot said. “We will ensure that we have the right leaders in place to drive the change that we know Riot needs.”

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