Riot Games is under fire in a new lawsuit for sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
Earlier this week, Riot Games confirmed that it is investigating its CEO, Nicolo Laurent, on allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. The complaint was made by Sharon O’Donnell, a former assistant to the riot executive who was fired in July 2020. As part of the lawsuit, she is seeking compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and general damage.
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In response to the lawsuit, Joe Hixson, a spokesman for Riot said:
“To build Rioter’s confidence in our commitment to cultural change, allegations of harassment or discrimination must be taken very seriously, allegations thoroughly investigated, and action taken against anyone who has violated our policies. In this case, because some of the allegations relate to an executive officer, a special committee of our board of directors is overseeing the investigation, which is being conducted by an outside law firm. Our CEO has shown his full cooperation and support during this process and we are determined to ensure all of this is thoroughly investigated and appropriately resolved. “
O’Donnell started working at Riot in 2017. However, throughout her tenure, she was reportedly “yelled at by Laurent and consistently urged by the CEO to be careful about her tone.” In addition, the suit accused Laurent of “telling female employees that the best way to manage stress during the COVID-19 pandemic is to have children,” and the suit argued, “Laurent has made sexual progress towards her and asked O’Donnell to travel with him outside of work. “
When she declined his offer, Laurent allegedly “yelled at her and later took away her work duties.” From there, “she was criticized by the CEO for her tone.” O’Donnell said she believed she was fired for complaining to the company’s human resources department about Laurent’s progress.
In addition to allegations of sexual harassment, O’Donnell’s lawsuit establishes that she was a non-exempt worker who falls under the California Labor Code’s wage and hourly laws and applicable contract work. However, she was treated like an exempt employee, which meant that “she did not receive benefits under the California Labor Code”. For example, she should have “been paid for all hours of her work, given meal breaks / rest breaks and paid for overtime,” according to the lawsuit. Instead, she should work 10 hours a day, five days a week. She also regularly stayed overtime and worked on weekends. She was not paid for overtime, although Laurent knew she worked long hours.
Commenting on the lawsuit, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and the Department for Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) said, “Riots have broken the law in several ways regarding the treatment of women in the workplace.”
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