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Riot reportedly suspends COO over misconduct at work

Update: Riot offers statement, full internal email confirms suspension

Reports have emerged that Riot Games has suspended one of its senior executives as it cracks down on workplace misconduct.

Kotaku reports that COO Scott Gelb is being given two months unpaid leave and training following an investigation, although it is not yet clear the full nature of his offence.

News of his punishment stems from an internal email sent by CEO Nicolo Laurent. The exec said that, while the investigation process means such cases are kept private, Riot has chosen to make an exception in Gelb's case.

"The Special Committee of the Board of Directors has specifically requested that one of Scott's consequences be highly visible," he wrote.

"Scott holds one of the most senior roles at Riot and is held to a higher level of accountability and visibility, therefore certain consequences are going to be very visible to Rioters. It's for these reasons I feel it's necessary to make an exception."

Kotaku notes that in its ongoing investigations into the studio's culture, Gelb was regularly mentioned for his inappropriate humour that led to incidents of slapping or flicking testicles, farting on employees or dry-humping them.

However, in his email the CEO said: "Many of the rumours circulating about Scott within the company, in the media and other channels, are not true."

Additionally, he wrote: "There were claims made about Scott engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour, particularly during the early days of Riot. And some of these claims were, in fact, substantiated. The conduct alleged in these claims is not acceptable."

Laurent praised Gelb for choosing "ownership and redemption" instead of leaving Riot and otherwise avoiding the consequences. He added that he will "root for him, support him through this journey, and will leverage him as a great leader" when Gelb returns in two months' time.

Riot declined to comment to Kotaku on which allegations were untrue.

The League of Legends studio has been under fire from allegations of a toxic workplace culture following an exposť by Kotaku earlier this year. The company has promised to make changes and quash this, even outlining a plan for how it will accomplish this and hiring former Uber exec Frances Frei as part of its efforts.

One current and one former employee are actually taking legal action against Riot Games over discrimination and harassment.

Update: Riot Games has offered an official statement on the suspension:

"As part of our ongoing commitment to evolving our culture, we are thoroughly investigating all claims through our established process. Per this process, outside legal counsel undertook an investigation of allegations about Scott Gelb. After carefully reviewing and considering the findings, the Special Committee of Riot's Board of Directors determined that a two-month, unpaid leave of absence, along with training, was the appropriate action given the allegations that were substantiated. We can also confirm that many of the rumors circulating about Scott within the company, the media, and other channels were actually not true."

In addition, the full internal email has been shared with Variety.

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