Nicolo Laurent, the Riot Games CEO, is under investigation following gender discrimination and sexual harassment allegations, a Riot Games spokesperson tells The Verge today. The investigation was announced after a legal suit was filed against the Valorant developer.
Due to Laurent’s stature at the company, a special committee of the studio’s Board of Directors will oversee the investigation, which a third-party law firm is currently conducting. A Riot Games spokesperson told The Verge that the company “is taking all allegations of harassment or discrimination very seriously, thoroughly investigating claims and taking action against anyone who is found to have violated our policies.”
According to the lawsuit filed in early January, Sharon O’Donnell is a former executive assistant at Riot Games who joined the studio in 2017 but claims her employment was “wrongfully terminated” in July 2020.
O’Donnell claims Laurent made sexual advances toward her. Shortly after she filed a complaint about Laurent’s sexual advances to the company’s HR department, O’Donnell’s employment was terminated. She believes that her firing was in direct relation to refusing the CEO’s alleged advances.
Other allegations against Laurent include an incident where he told several female employees that the best way to handle COVID-19-related stress was to “have kids.”
Riot Games is no stranger to controversy surrounding its workplace culture, which was first brought to light in 2018 following an investigation from Kotaku. In recent years, the company has faced several legal challenges brought forth by former employees.