Former Riot Games employee Sharon O'Donell has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against CEO Nicolo Laurent. The managing director had repeatedly made her undesirable advances, urged her to sleep with him behind his wife's back and to behave unprofessionally at work. He is said to have reacted to rejection with harassment and ultimately with resignation. Among other things, O'Donnell is said to have been denied breaks and overtime was not noted or paid. That is evident from the application.
The indictment describes some of the comments O'Donnell endured since her first day at Riot Games. The CEO is said to have asked them to "to come to his house while his wife is away", "to travel with him" , "to dress more feminine" and "to guard her tongue". He also asked her if she "Could get a grip on him if they were alone in his house". Furthermore, he put his arm around her.
Riot Games said it has opened an investigation into the lawsuit, which "from an independent law firm" would be done. Laurent is said to have given his full consent to the cooperation. Regarding Sharon O'Donnell and her dismissal, a company representative also made a statement (via VICE):
"One issue on which we can take a position immediately is the plaintiff's testimony about her separation from Riot. The plaintiff was fired from the company over seven months ago because of several well-documented complaints from a large number of employees. Any other allegation is plain not correct."
O'Donnel's lawsuit is not the first time Riot Games' senior management has been accused of sexist or abusive behavior. In 2018, an article by Kotakus Cecilia D'Anastasio described a culture in which women are systematically denied access to management positions and in which female employees are exposed to constant discrimination from colleagues and bosses. In the article, in addition to female victims, male employees also had their say "Bro Culture Behind Closed Doors" spoke and also described being the victim of sexual assault by superiors. Also, one of the bosses would have a habit of farting their employees in the face during meetings. The discovery of these incidents resulted in Riot making reparations payments to its female workers.
Riots modus operandi, when complaints of sexual harassment are submitted against employees, is to force arbitration between the parties. During their employment, employees give up the right to sue the company. Any legal complaints are automatically forwarded to an independent arbitrator, who should then resolve the conflicts in a conversation with those affected. In May 2019, 100 Riot Games employees went out of work and closed down to protest the practice.
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