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In a nutshell: The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) released a statement this week accusing Riot Games, developer of Valorant and League of Legends, of delaying the proceedings of its investigation into allegations of rampant sexism and harassment in 2018. The court wants Riot to allow its employees to talk to the DFEH without fear of repercussions.
Those following the recent accusations against the culture of discrimination and harassment at Activision Blizzard may remember that a similar case started at Riot Games three years ago, and California's DFEH is still investigating it. Two women sued Riot, alleging that the company paid women less than men for similar work, and that they had to endure sexual assault.
In 2019 Riot reached a settlement with about 100 female employees. However this year, the DFEH ordered Riot to reveal the details of the settlement, which contained language barring employees from speaking freely to the government.
In June, Riot was ordered to issue a corrective notice notifying employees of their rights to speak to the DFEH and cooperate in its investigation without fear of retaliation. The DFEH's statement this week asks the Los Angeles Superior Court to compel Riot to comply.
“Agreements that attempt to bar individuals from filing a complaint or assisting in a DFEH case run afoul of the anti-retaliation and anti-interference provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act,” DFEH director Kevin Kish said. "The very existence of such agreements has a chilling effect on the willingness of individuals to come forward with information that may be of importance to the DFEH as it seeks to advance the public interest in the elimination of unlawful employment discrimination and harassment.”
Today, Riot Games sent a statement to IGN claiming it's never stopped employees from talking to the government. "Notices are being sent to former employees to confirm that Riot’s severance agreements have never in any way prohibited speaking to government agencies," it reads. "Riot has never and will never retaliate against anyone for talking to any government agency."
Earlier this year, Alienware ended its partnership with Riot because of the allegations and the negative effect it had on its public image.