Some changes have been made to this article to reflect that the lawsuit between the DFEH and Riot Games has been ongoing since 2019.
Riot Games is being sued by the state of California for gender discrimination, sexual harassment and pay decisions, with the suit starting in 2019.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) litigation notice was spotted by a Reddit user (thanks, PC Gamer), and the class case is “not subject to arbitration. It is proceeding in court now, and any class member can participate in it”.
According to the notice, Riot Games violated the law in multiple different ways including “gender discrimination in hiring, pay and promotion decisions and sexual harassment,” – the DFEH is also the agency suing Activision Blizzard on behalf of employees as well.
As the DFEH case is not subject to arbitration, it will progress “without further delay” and the litigation document states that “women who signed arbitration agreements or other agreements cannot be excluded from the government’s case.”
“It is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you for speaking to the government, or otherwise participating or cooperating in a government proceeding,” the document adds.
Kotaku wrote in 2018 about the “culture of sexism at Riot Games,” and what soon followed was a lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court which alleged that women had been “denied equal pay and found their careers stifled because they are women,” and were victim to sexual harassment and misconduct.
That currently ongoing legal action is separate to the the one filed by the DFEH, and settling the DFEH one without arbitration means that it won’t take place outside a judiciary court, unlike the previous suit from 2018 which could entitle the plaintiffs to £288million ($400million).
In June 2019 the DFEH filed an enforcement action to compel Riot Games to provide employee pay information, it also alleged that Riot Games refused to provide this pay information.
Riot Games publicly responded to this action, stating it had “been cooperative with the DFEH, have acted in good faith responding to their requests, and have provided them with substantial amounts of information.”
Riot Games is now facing multiple cases of legal action, one private and the other at state level. A Riot Games representative told PC Gamer that the studio has little to say on the action from the DFEH, and that “the truth is that we see it as a legal matter dealing with the past and our team outside of legal is much more focused on the future.”
In other news, Activision Blizzard has hired a legal firm known for union-busting to investigate the current sexual harassment claims. WilmerHale, the firm in question, is known for working with Amazon when workers demanded better pay and working conditions.