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Riot Games Responds to California DFEH Allegations

  • Jun 25, 2019

Late last week, our leadership team internally addressed allegations from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) that we had failed to provide requested documents in a review of our workplace conditions. While we plan to file our full opposition brief in court in the coming weeks, because of the media attention the case has received and the ways we believe the DFEH has misrepresented facts, we feel it’s important to publicly respond now, so we’re sharing the same letter publicly today.

As we messaged to Rioters, despite what was represented in the DFEH’s press release, we’ve been cooperative with the DFEH, have acted in good faith responding to their requests, and have provided them with substantial amounts of information.

We’re proud of how Riot has come together to make significant progress on diversity, inclusion, and company culture. You can read more about this crucial work here. We also feel strongly that Rioters are compensated fairly and that we do not have widespread pay disparity at Riot; to the extent any individual issues are discovered, we have and will continue to quickly and appropriately fix them. We’re prepared to stand by our actions and to improve where warranted, but we also have a duty to correct false narratives and we’re doing so today.

We understand many Rioters have questions about the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) investigation of Riot. First and foremost, we want to assure you that despite what’s being represented in the press release and the media, we’ve been cooperative with the DFEH, have acted in good faith in responding to their requests, and have provided them with substantial amounts of information. While we respect the mandate of the DFEH, we’re surprised and disappointed with the approach they’re taking by issuing a press release that fails to tell the full story.

Over the past year, we’ve seen many stories about Riot, our workplace culture, and our ongoing work in the D&I space. While many of these stories have helped us recognize areas for growth, we’ve historically refrained from issuing clarifying statements in response to other stories that cast an inaccurate or overly one-sided narrative of our culture and what we stand for. We’ve instead focused our efforts internally on driving results through the commitments we’ve made around evolving our culture, as we believe the path to rebuilding trust begins from within.

For many of you, this external silence hasn’t felt great — the absence of a response from us correcting these narratives can lead to a general feeling that everything being said must be true, which is understandable when we can’t be forthcoming with all the facts. And while we continue to believe our focus should be on the areas that meaningfully impact all of you, last week’s press release from the DFEH, and the resulting media coverage, underscore the need for us to be more proactive in speaking up on Riot’s behalf. In this letter, we’ve outlined some of the key points of our response to the DFEH.

We’ve been engaging in what we believed was a productive conversation with the DFEH from the start. Our early negotiations with the DFEH centered on protecting Rioter privacy and the confidentiality of the data they requested. While Riot’s initial response to the DFEH took some time, that’s to be expected because we needed to work through the preliminary information requests, which we believed to be incredibly broad. The original requests included not only names, job history, and compensation history, but also citizenship, marital status, and other personal information. Because many documents turned over to the government are subject to public information requests, we pushed for assurances that any data we produced would be treated with confidentiality and not available to the general public. Protecting Rioters’ personal information and privacy is paramount for us, as is protecting our business structure from competitors who could have also reviewed the public data. Once the DFEH provided guarantees that both private Rioter data and sensitive business data would be kept confidential, we promptly produced the requested information.

The fact that the DFEH (i) asked in their petition for data that we had already provided them; (ii) filed their petition without providing us a reasonable opportunity to respond; and (iii) did not acknowledge Riot’s further responses to DFEH requests, leaves us with the impression that the department had no interest in allowing us to continue working through their discovery request. We strongly believe the DFEH’s representation of our interactions paints a picture of Riot that is fundamentally unfair, and misrepresents our level of responsiveness and cooperation.

We take any and all concerns related to our culture, D&I efforts, and the treatment of Rioters extremely seriously. In all of our D&I work, we have the long-term in mind, and we’re focused squarely on making concrete and thoughtful decisions that will result in tangible change. We’re not just checking boxes here, and with the help of so many of you, we’ve already made substantial progress in a short amount of time.

When it comes to the issue of alleged pay disparity — we feel strongly that Rioters are compensated fairly and that we do not have widespread pay disparity at Riot. To the extent that any individual issues are discovered, we have and will continue to swiftly and appropriately remedy them for all Rioters, on an ongoing basis.

We know that the constant news coverage is wearing people down. We will continue to cooperate with the DFEH, but we also expect to be treated fairly. Because of the unfortunate and inaccurate public narrative that arose over the past week, we’re planning to correct the record with the media and defend ourselves more overtly than we have in the past. In the coming weeks, we will make public filings that will more fully share our side of the story. We look forward to setting the record straight on this issue in court.

We are incredibly proud of how Riot has come together to make significant progress on so many different fronts in such a short amount of time. We’re prepared to stand by our actions and to improve where warranted, but we also have a duty to protect Rioters, and we cannot let this type of false narrative distract us from the important work of making sure that Riot has a great culture, that’s both diverse and inclusive, and enables all of us to be our best. We’re committed to doing the right thing, and we’re determined to do it in the right way.