Riot Games investigation into CEO finds "no evidence" of misconduct

After lawsuit alleges sexual harassment and discrimination. 

Riot Games has announced that following an investigation into allegations of misconduct by CEO Nicolo Laurent, no evidence to support the claims has been found - and Laurent will not face sanctions.

The investigation was commissioned by Riot in response to a lawsuit by former Riot executive assistant Sharon O'Donnell, filed in January, which accused Laurent of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and wrongful termination. Outside law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP carried out the investigation, then gave its results to the Special Committee of Riot's Board of Directors (a committee of directors created in 2018 to "oversee the company's progress in diversity and inclusion" following a Kotaku exposé on widespread sexism at the company). The Special Committee reviewed the results of the investigation, and concluded that there was no evidence to support the claims.

"Since 2018, when we revamped our internal investigation process, we've used a rigorous, outside investigation process to ensure that any allegations against our senior leaders are investigated thoroughly and without bias - and that those investigations involving our senior-most executives are overseen by a Special Committee of Riot's Board of Directors," Riot Games said in a statement. "Following the recent allegations of misconduct raised against Riot and our CEO, we were fully prepared to do so again.

"The Special Committee of our Board of Directors has concluded that after review of the results of the investigation, and based on everything they know today, there is no evidence that Nicolo harassed, discriminated, or retaliated against Ms. O'Donnell."

According to the Washington Post, the announcement and accompanying letter from Laurent denying the claims were initially shared internally with the company's staff, but the statements can now all be viewed online.

Riot has also filed a request to speed up court proceedings in an attempt to move the case to arbitration (out-of-court settlement), claiming this is a response to alleged witness tampering. The company claims O'Donnell offered to pay someone to testify in her favour, that someone claiming to be on the legal team threatened another person to get them to join the lawsuit, and that O'Donnell gave witness contact information to the press (thanks, GamesIndustry.biz).

In the lawsuit, O'Donnell claims that Laurent subjected her to sexual comments, and invited her to travel with him and work from his house while his wife was absent. The suit says Laurent became hostile when O'Donnell declined, with the CEO limiting her workplace responsibilities and ultimately having her fired when she reported the incident to Riot's HR department.

This all follows recent news that Riot again attempted to force plaintiffs in its class-action gender discrimination lawsuit into individual arbitration. That lawsuit is still rumbling on, as after an initial settlement offer of $10m (£7.28m) was made, Riot was accused of colluding with the plaintiff's counsel to reach a settlement, with one state agency claiming the figure should be closer to $400m (£291.7m). The $10m settlement was rejected, and fresh legal counsel brought in to represent the women.

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Emma Kent

Emma Kent

Reporter  |  GoneEFK

Emma was Eurogamer's summer intern in 2018 and we liked her so much we decided to keep her. Now a fully-fledged reporter, she loves asking difficult questions, smashing people at DDR and arguing about, well, everything.

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