Riot Games CEO sued for sexual harassment

The exterior of Riot Games HQ
(Image credit: Riot Games)

Last month, former Riot Games employee Sharon O'Donnell filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against both the company and its CEO, Nicolo Laurent. A copy of the complaint was obtained by Vice Games.

Before being fired in July of 2020, O'Donnell acted as Laurent's executive assistant. The suit alleges that, among other things, Laurent told O'Donnell to be more feminine, asked if she "could handle him when they were alone at his house," and told her that she "should 'cum' over to his house" when his wife was away, obviously implying that they should have sex.

The lawsuit also alleges that Laurent suggestively described his underwear size, said that "his wife was jealous of beautiful women," and, bizarrely, told women working at Riot that they should deal with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic by having children.

The lawsuit claims that, after resisting Laurent's alleged advances, O'Donnell was punished by not being paid for overtime or given meal breaks, and then fired. A spokesperson for Riot disputed this, telling Vice that "the plaintiff was dismissed from the company over seven months ago based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people."

Riot tells Vice that it has initiated an investigation into O'Donnell's other claims, and that because the accused is an executive leader, the investigation will be handled by "an outside law firm" and overseen by a "special committee" from the company's Board of Directors.

"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," said Riot.

After Kotaku published a report on the culture of sexism at Riot Games in 2018, the company was sued for gender discrimination in a class action lawsuit. Riot agreed to pay $10 million to settle, divided among the roughly 1,000 women who worked at the studio between November 2014 and the time the settlement was finalized. That offer was later withdrawn after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a document proposing that the plaintiffs were owed more, suggesting the amount be raised to over $400 million.

A year after the report was first published, Riot put the company's leadership through a "behavioral boot camp" and claimed to have made "significant strides" in changing its culture.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.