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The developer of the popular League of Legends game has been facing down allegations and lawsuits over what’s reportedly a toxic workplace culture, culminating in a mass walkout when the company tried to force two women into arbitration instead of having their day in court. But it now appears that the State of California has been quietly investigating the game developer as well — and that Riot hasn’t been playing ball.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing just announced (via Kotaku) that it’s attempting to legally force Riot to cough up employee pay data so it can see whether Riot is paying women less than men, because Riot has refused to provide that data voluntarily.
The surprising part, of course, is that we had no idea Riot was under officially under investigation until now. In total, the agency says it’s investigating “alleged unequal pay, sexual harassment, sexual assault, retaliation, and gender discrimination in selection and promotion.”
“DFEH has broad authority to investigate potential violations of California’s civil rights laws similar to grand jury proceedings,” reads part of a statement from DFEH director Kevin Kish. “When companies fail to cooperate voluntarily with our investigations, including with our investigative discovery, DFEH will exercise its right to seek assistance from the courts. Doing so ensures our investigations are informed by relevant evidence and completed without unnecessary delay.”
“We’ve been in active conversations with the DFEH since its inquiry began. Investigations like this can arise when there have been allegations of workplace disparity and we’ve been cooperating in good faith with the DFEH to address its concerns,” a Riot representative tells The Verge in a statement. “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. We’ve also made several recent requests that the DFEH participate in a call with us to address their requests. To date, these requests have 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 continuing to demonstrate this to the DFEH.”
In late May, following the walkout at Riot Games, organizers told The Verge that they were continuing to press the issue at the company in other ways, including internal petitions. The company hired a new chief diversity officer back in March, before the walkout.
Update June 12th, 10PM ET: Added statement from Riot Games.