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Riot responds to California State on gender discrimination: “Rioters are compensated fairly”

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is filing an investigation enforcement suit

June 18, 2019 Riot has responded the California DFEH’s claims that the studio hasn’t provided information that the investigation requires.

A little over two weeks ago, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing announced an investigation into League of Legends developer Riot Games over allegations of gender discrimination. In a recent press release, the DFEH said that Riot had failed to provide adequate information for the investigation. Riot denied that claim, and the DFEH issued another statement reiterating Riot’s alleged lack of compliance. Now, Riot has posted a response to that allegation.

On its website, Riot says that, although it plans to submit its “full opposition brief in court in the coming weeks”, it feels it’s “important to publicly respond now”. The blog post shares an internal letter from the company in which its leaders address the DFEH’s allegations directly to staff. It states that, contrary to the DFEH’s statements, the studio has “acted in good faith responding to their requests, and have provided them with substantial amounts of information”.

The company says the DFEH requested a broad scope of information, and that the studio initially “took some time” responding because of its scope. It also wanted guarantees that its employees’ and other sensitive company data would be kept confidential. The studio says as soon as these guarantees were given by the DFEH it “promptly” sent the information. It also argues that the DFEH “did not acknowledge Riot’s further responses to DFEH requests”, and challenges certain aspects of how the investigation has been represented so far, offering some clarifications on its stance.

Riot’s bosses address concerns about employees’ situation at the company directly, saying “we also feel strongly that Rioters are compensated fairly and that we do not have widespread pay disparity at Riot; to the extent any individual issues are discovered, we have and will continue to quickly and appropriately fix them.”

This follows the DFEH’s comments to PC Games Insider last week that “In the gender discrimination investigation, Riot Games has withheld critical information from the DFEH that is necessary to determine whether pay discrimination exists at the company.” It added “Riot Games has withheld this critical information from the government at the same time it has issued a public diversity and inclusion commitment on its website that the company will ‘finish our full pay equity analysis’ by July 2019.“

As reported by Kotaku when the inquiry was first announced, the DFEH is seeking information from the studio as part of an investigation into “alleged unequal pay, sexual harassment, sexual assault, retaliation, and gender discrimination in selection and promotion”. It has filed an investigation enforcement action to get data about employees’ pay from Riot, claiming that the studio “has refused to provide the Department with adequate information”, which it needs to “analyse whether women are paid less than men at the company”.

Riot, however, has insisted it’s been “in active conversations with the DFEH since its inquiry began” and has been “cooperating in good faith with the DFEH to address its concerns. 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.”

At the time Riot went on to say it had requested a call with the DFEH to address its concerns, which, at that date, had 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 addition to a report last year, also by Kotaku, in which multiple sources talked about what they perceived to be a culture of ingrained sexism at the studio, there have been lawsuits and even an employee walkout over alleged gender discrimination and forced arbitration clauses in employees’ contracts.

Last month, Riot said in a blog post that it would create a D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) Rioters Council, whose aim would be to “move us forward in D&I and culture”, acknowledging their employees’ “perspectives on arbitration, issues they’ve experienced at Riot, and changes they hope to see”.