Riot Games, the video game publisher that produced the popular League of Legends, said Tuesday it is investigating allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination against its executive director Nicolo Laurent.
Mr. Laurent and Mr. Riot were sued in the Los Angeles Supreme Court in January by Sharon O’Donnell, a former executive assistant to Mr. Laurent. In court documents, Ms. O’Donnell said Mr. Laurent made repeated sexually stimulating remarks about her, asked her to work in his house when his wife was away, and told women who worked for Riot how to cope with stress bypasses The coronavirus pandemic was “having children”.
“Riot Games is a male-dominated culture,” the lawsuit said. Women workers like Ms. O’Donnell were “discriminated against, harassed and treated as second-class citizens,” it said.
When she denied Mr. Laurent’s advances, Ms. O’Donnell said in the lawsuit that he yelled at her, became hostile, removed some of her responsibilities, and finally fired her in July.
Ms. O’Donnell “believes this was because she refused to have sex or an affair with the defendant,” according to the lawsuit, which Daily Esports first reported Tuesday.
Riot denied Ms. O’Donnell’s allegation in a statement, saying she was “fired from the company over seven months ago due to several well-documented complaints from various people”.
According to Riot, an outside law firm was investigating Mr. Laurent and was overseen by a committee of the company’s board of directors. Riot said Mr. Laurent is cooperating with the investigation.
Riot, owned by the Chinese internet giant Tencent, has grown into one of the world’s most famous video game companies.
According to an estimate by research firm SuperData, the flagship League of Legends, released in 2009, had sales of more than $ 1.8 billion last year. And the series of professional competitions that Riot has built around the game has drawn tens of millions of fans, turning star gamers into esports celebrities that can make millions of dollars.
But Riot has also come under fire for its sexist, toxic workplace. In 2019, it was agreed to pay $ 10 million to the 1,000 women who had worked at the company since 2014 to settle a class action lawsuit for gender discrimination and unequal pay.
The California Department for Fair Employment and Housing, which has been investigating Riot since 2018, said last year the women could be eligible for up to $ 400 million, which Riot denied. Earlier this month it was said that court action would be taken to provide “class-wide relief” for the women who worked at Riot.