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Women suing Riot Games may be entitled to $400m not $10m

Two state regulators attempt to intervene with gender discrimination class action lawsuit in plaintiffs' favour

The ongoing class action lawsuit against Riot Games over alleged gender discrimination faces a remarkable new challenge, as two government agencies wade into the debate.

In December last year, a preliminary out of court settlement of $10 million was agreed upon between the Riot Games and the 1,000 plaintiffs. However, following an intervention by the Department of Fair employment and Housing (DFEH), this figure could climb to over $400 million.

The class action suit was originally filed in November 2018 after two women sued over violations of the California Equal Pay Act.

It came in the wake an exposé of alleged rampant sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the League of Legends developer, which was said to foster a sexist "bro culture" which was ignored by management for years.

In December last year, it looked as though the two parties were about to settle, simply waiting for approval from the Los Angeles Superior Court.

The intervention of two state agencies could disrupt this however, claiming that the women could be entitled to over $400 million in potential back pay -- based on the wage disparity between men and women at Riot Games.

Additionally, according to court documents seen by the LA TImes, the DFEH said that "no enforceable changes to employment policies, at a company alleged to be rife with sexism, are part of the settlement."

The DFEH also argues that the plaintiffs' legal representation Rosen Saba has been responsible for several procedural mistakes, and did not attempt to determine a fair monetary compensation.

Both Riot Games and Rosen Saba have refuted claims made against them by the state agency.

"We worked hard to negotiate with the lawyer representing the class to reach an agreement that we collectively believe is fair for the class members," Riot spokesperson Joe Hixson told The LA Times. "Now DFEH is trying to disrupt that agreement in a legal filing that is filled with inaccuracies and false allegations."

Hixson added: "We are particularly dismayed that the filing downplays and ignores the efforts we have made with respect to diversity, inclusion, and culture over the past 18 months. We look forward to making our case to the Court."

On top of claims from the DFEH, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) argued the plaintiffs' legal representation failed to carry out due diligence with the preliminary settlement, and gave Riot Games a free pass for workers' rights violations.

The DLSE went as far as to request an official intervention in the case, claiming the settlement clears Riot of any violations around working conditions, and the original notice for pay violations was misfiled.

Again, lawyers for both Riot and the plaintiffs' have dismissed these allegations.

The coming weeks will be pivotal for the outcome of this case; on January 31 the court will decide whether the DLSE is entitled to intervene, and on February 3, the judge will rule on the proposed $10 million settlement.

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