Riot Games CEO sued for sexual harassment by former assistant

The plaintiff also accuses the company wrongful termination and failure to pay wages.

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INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 02: CEO of Riot Games, Nicolo Laurent at Mastercard Nexus at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship on November 2, 2018 in Incheon, South Korea. (Photo by Hannah Smith/ESPAT Media for Mastercard via Getty Images)
ESPAT Media via Getty Images

Riot Games and its CEO, Nicolo Laurent, are facing a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the executive’s former assistant. Vice has obtained a copy of the complaint, wherein the plaintiff (Sharon O’Donnell) accuses Laurent of behaving inappropriately towards her starting shortly after she was hired until she left the company in July 2020.

In her lawsuit, O’Donnell described how Laurent would tell her to be more feminine and to watch her tone. She also accuses Laurent of discussing his underwear size with her, telling her to “cum” to his house while his wife was away and asking her if she “could handle him when they were alone at his house.” The lawsuit alleges that because O’Donnell refused his advances, she was punished by having her duties taken away until she was eventually fired. The former executive assistant alleges that she wasn’t paid for her work, including overtime, and that she was not given meal breaks, as well.

A Riot Games spokesperson told Vice that an outside law firm being overseen by a special committee from its Board of Directors is conducting an investigation into her claims. “Our CEO has pledged his full cooperation and support during this process, and we're committed to ensuring that all claims are thoroughly explored and appropriately resolved,” they added. However, they’re refuting O’Donnell’s story that she was fired after resisting Laurent’s advances. They said she was dismissed last year “based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

Back in 2018, Kotaku published an investigative piece looking into the League of Legends developer’s “bro culture” and the rampant sexism within the company. It led to a class action gender discrimination lawsuit against the developer and a walkout to protest its use of forced arbitration on the plaintiffs. That lawsuit was supposed to be settled by paying 1,000 women in the company a total of $10 million. However, it didn’t push through after two state agencies intervened to announce that the plaintiffs may be entitled to as much as $400 million.

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