Riot Games has cleared its CEO of harassment following investigation

Steve Dent
·Associate Editor
·2-min read
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)

After conducting an internal investigation, Riot Games said it found "no evidence" of harassment by CEO Nicolo Laurent against a former employee, Sharon O'Donnell, the Washington Post has reported. “We concluded that there was no evidence that Laurent harassed, discriminated, or retaliated against the plaintiff,” the company said in a statement. “We have therefore reached the conclusion that, at the current time … no action should be taken against Laurent.”

Riot, which publishes games including League of Legends and Valorant, opened the investigation after O'Donnell, a former executive assistant, filed a lawsuit against the company. It alleged that Laurent made inappropriate sexual comments, telling her to be more feminine and watch her tone. Laurent also said that because O’Donnell refused his advances, she had duties taken away and was eventually fired. She also alleges that she wasn’t paid for her work, including overtime, nor given meal breaks.

After a probe by an outside legal team, a special board of directors committee concluded that the claims were meritless. "This is not a recommendation we take lightly,” the committee said in a statement. “Most cases of this nature are not black and white; they fall into the grey. However, this was not one of those cases. In this case, we were simply unable to find any evidence that would justify a sanction of any kind against Laurent." The company has also asked the court to speed up legal proceedings in O'Donnell's lawsuit by moving the case to arbitration.

The company is also facing a class-action lawsuit about pervasive discrimination and harassment, following a 2018 Kotaku investigation and company-wide walkout. Riot Games is trying to push for arbitration in that suit, as well, arguing that the women involved had signed arbitration clauses when they were hired.

The Riot board, however, said the decision favoring Laurent was separate from larger company culture issues. “While our conclusion in this particular case is that no discrimination, harassment, or retaliation occurred, let us be clear that as a committee, we remain fully invested in overseeing the company’s initiatives to transform Riot’s culture,” it said. “We encourage any employee of Riot who has experienced misconduct to feel safe reporting it.”