Riot Games’ CEO under investigation over new sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit

Riot Games’ CEO under investigation over new sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit
Ben Borthwick Updated on by

Valorant and League of Legends developer Riot Games' CEO Nicolo Laurent is facing a new lawsuit filed by a former executive assisstant accusing him of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and wrongful termination.  

As reported by the Washington Post, the lawsuit was filed back in January by Sharon O'Donnell who accused Laurent of creating a hostile work environment through demeaning comments related to her gender and unwanted sexual advances including the claim that he would ask her to travel with him and work from his home while his wife was absent, even asking her if she "could handle him when they were alone at his house." 

When she refused, Laurent is said to have become hostile and limited her responsiblities at work, which the lawsuit describes as "explicitly and implicitly conditioned job benefits and the absence of job detriments on [O’Donnell’s] acceptance of sexual conduct" before O'Donnell was terminated from her position in July of last year for not reciprocating his advances, a characterisation that Riot strongly denies in a statement on the case.

"The plaintiff was dismissed from the company over seven months ago based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false" a statement from a Riot spokesperson said, and also added that a special committee of its board of directors would be conducting an investigation into the events with the aid of an outside law firm to ensure impartiality and transparency. "Our CEO has pledged his full cooperation and support during this process," the spokesperson's statment continues, "and we’re committed to ensuring that all claims are thoroughly explored and appropriately resolved."

It's the latest in a string of high profile lawsuits and reports of a toxic workplace culture Riot Games has had to contend with in recent years, only around this time last year it transpired the studio could be facing a $400 millon dollar settlement for a gender discrimination lawsuit filed against the company back in 2018, though the company disputed the numbers quoted in those reports, saying "We’ll say again that there is no basis in fact or reason that would justify that level of exposure and we believe that any assertions to the contrary can simply not be made in good faith."