Video game developer settles workplace discrimination lawsuit

Employers in Tennessee and around the country often face a public backlash as well as possible legal sanctions following allegations of workplace discrimination or harassment. The California-based video game developer Riot Games appears to have taken steps to mitigate such a backlash by settling a class-action lawsuit filed by several of its female workers. The lawsuit, which was filed in November 2018, accused the company of nurturing a misogynistic work environment and violating the California Equal Pay Act.

Riot Games announced the settlement in an Aug. 23 press release that contained few details. The plaintiffs have also declined to comment on the terms of the proposed agreement, which will now be submitted to the court for approval. The lawsuit was filed after a popular video game blog ran an article alleging that the work environment at Riot Games was toxic.

The leadership at Riot Games may have acted to stem growing discontent among its employees. In May 2019, workers walked out to protest the company's policy requiring two sexual harassment and wrongful termination claims to be settled through arbitration. Riot has not backed down from this position. In July 2018, a court ruled that forced arbitration will be allowed in one of the cases. Arguments in the second case are ongoing.

Employers may choose to settle workplace discrimination matters discretely when the cases against them are compelling even when their contracts of employment contain arbitration clauses. Attorneys with experience in this area might advise workers who have been exposed to harassment or discrimination to keep detailed records of incidents of unfair treatment including the names of any eyewitnesses. Other evidence that could prompt an employer to eschew a protracted legal battle include copies of company communications that contain lewd or discriminatory language and photographs of suggestive or pornographic images in the workplace.

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