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Home / employee

Riot Games sued again for gender discrimination, harassment

Four months after Riot Games agreed to pay $100 million to settle a previous gender discrimination suit, another former employee is suing the company on the same grounds along with additional allegations, including being propositioned for sex by a male co-worker.

Lydia Zanotti’s Santa Monica Superior Court lawsuit allegations include wrongful termination, gender discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, failure to prevent sexual harassment and negligent hiring, supervision or retention.

Zanotti seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought April 5.

A Riot Games representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Zanotti was hired in March 2018 as an associate environment artist and her duties included graphic design, creating 3-D models and doing backgrounds for video games, the suit states. Zanotti accepted a lesser rank and less pay than she had at her previous job because she believed Riot Games gave her the chance for more personal growth, the suit states.

But Zanotti soon learned that she was kept at a lower rank that the male artist she replaced and that male colleagues with less skill and experience were receiving better raises and promotions, according to the suit.

After Zanotti received a competitive job offer from another company in September 2020, Riot Games management told her she would be promoted and given a raise, but neither occurred, the suit alleges.

“Meanwhile, (Zanotti) endured comments from male coworkers that (she) deserved less money than (her) male counterparts,” according to the suit.

Zanotti was denied a raise by her supervisor even though she continued to meet her performance goals and was recommended for a wage increase by two superiors, the suit states. Her male colleagues were given credit for the plaintiff’s achievements and she was not recognized for her game content ideas, the suit states.

Zanotti also “endured an increasing amount of ongoing sexual harassment” in the workplace, the suit states. A senior engineer repeatedly propositioned Zanotti for sex and said he would like her to be intimate with him and his wife, according to the suit.

Many of the engineer’s alleged comments were sent over encrypted messages at Riot Games, the suit states.

In addition, a male senior artist allegedly bullied Zanotti and poured a drink over head at a work-related event.

Another environmental artist who was male and had authority over Zanotti took work from her and reassigned it to male counterparts while also making inappropriate comments about her body, Zanotti alleges.

Zanotti says she was put on leave for ostensibly having a conflict of interest after confirming she had a relationship with someone who worked at another company, and then was fired in April 2021, the suit states. Zanotti believes she lost her job due to her complaints about sexual harassment and gender discrimination at Riot Games and because she talked to a state Department of Fair Housing and Employment attorney about another suit filed against the company.

In the other case, former Riot Games employees Melanie McCracken and Jess Negron filed a class-action lawsuit against the firm, alleging a culture of gender discrimination and harassment against female employees and temporary agency contractors, in violation of the California Equal Pay Act. The case was settled in December with Riot Games agreeing to pay $100 million, with 80% reserved to compensate female current and former employees and contractors who worked at Riot Games from Nov. 6, 2014 and onward.

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