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Riot Games Under Investigation for Pay Discrimination

The State of California is investigating “League of Legends” developer Riot Games, according to a press release issued on Wednesday. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed an enforcement action requesting that Riot provide it with “employee pay data.”

The suit says that Riot has thus far provided insufficent information to determine the validity of allegations about pay discrimination based on gender. The purpose of the larger investigation, the department states, is to look into claims of “unequal pay, sexual harassment, sexual assault, retaliation, and gender discrimination in selection and promotion” within the West LA studio.

“DFEH has broad authority to investigate potential violations of California’s civil rights laws similar to grand jury proceedings,” DFEH director Kevin Kish said. “When companies fail to cooperate voluntarily with our investigations, including with our investigative discovery, DFEH will exercise its right to seek assistance from the courts. Doing so ensures our investigations are informed by relevant evidence and completed without unnecessary delay.”

“We’ve been in active conversations with the DFEH since its inquiry began,” Riot told Kotaku in a statement. “During this time, we’ve promptly responded to the DFEH’s requests, and have produced over 2,500 pages of documents and several thousand lines of pay data so far. We’ve also made several recent requests that the DFEH participate in a call with us to address their requests. To date, these requests have been unanswered, so we’re frankly disappointed to see the DFEH issue a press release alleging that we’ve been non-cooperative. We’re confident that we’ve made substantial progress on diversity, inclusion, and company culture, and look forward to continue demonstrating this to the DFEH.”

In August 2018, Riot was the subject of an investigative story published by Kotaku; the publication interviewed 28 current and former Riot employees about the “culture of sexism” at the company. “Many of those sources painted a picture of Riot as a place where women are treated unfairly, where the company’s culture puts female employees at a disadvantage,” Kotaku reporter Cecilia D’Anastasio wrote. “Other current employees, speaking on the record, disputed that account, with some top female employees telling Kotaku they had not personally experienced gender discrimination at Riot.”

Last month, employees at Riot staged a walkout in protest of the company’s efforts to end a pair of lawsuits — both regarding gender discrimination and sexual harassment — through forced arbitration.

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