Top Riot Executive Suspended Without Pay Following Investigation Over Workplace Misconduct

Top Riot Executive Suspended Without Pay Following Investigation Over Workplace Misconduct
Earlier this week, Riot's CEO sent an e-mail to employees describing the punishment its COO, Scott Gelb, will face after multiple employees alleged that, as a comedy bit, he has repeatedly touched subordinates' balls or butt or farted in their faces. Several employees tell Kotaku that his punishment-two months of unpaid leave and training-is far from satisfactory.
Finally, a small, but tangible victory! Article contents will be below. Though I am happy people are finally being punished, I'm still upset that Marc Merill and Brandon Beck are still in charge. This and the guy was only SUSPENDED and not fired. I'm sure they're all high-fiving each other behind the scenes. I really feel that they are just throwing some bait in the water to satisfy a few people so they think the problem is resolved and taken care of. [Read more about that issue here if you are interested.](https://kotaku.com/riot-games-says-it-wants-to-clean-up-its-mess-but-the-1829013902) ------ _Earlier this week, Riot’s CEO sent an e-mail to employees describing the punishment its COO, Scott Gelb, will face after multiple employees alleged that, as a comedy bit, he has repeatedly touched subordinates’ balls or butt or farted in their faces. Several employees tell Kotaku that his punishment—two months of unpaid leave and training—is far from satisfactory._ _An eight-month Kotaku investigation, informed by interviews with dozens of current and former employees, revealed that Riot Games has fostered a culture of sexism. The company, which is 80 percent male and has 2,500 employees, has an alleged history of passing up qualified women for promotions, holding female job candidates to a higher standard and perpetuating a “bro culture” of bathroom humor and alleged sexual misconduct._ _Throughout Kotaku’s interviews, one name kept cropping up: Scott Gelb, Riot Games’ COO, whom current and former employees allege participated in “ball-tapping” (flicking or slapping testicles), farting on employees or humping them for comedic effect. “It just became so normal,” said one employee who witnessed Gelb’s behavior. Another added, “The ball grabbing and things like that—that was absolutely well known across the board.” Other former employees who witnessed this believed that this style of bro comedy trickled down into the company’s lower ranks, where employees comfortably settled into a fraternity mindset that has, sources say, disadvantaged women._ _In response to Kotaku’s investigation, Riot put out several statements reaffirming its mission to set right the company’s reported wrongs. In an August blog post, Riot wrote, “We are prepared to make big changes and have begun taking action against specific cases, including removal of Rioters, though we aren’t likely to get into those details publicly on a case-by-case basis for legal and privacy reasons,” adding, “No one and nothing is sacred.” Riot has also made adjustments to its leadership that, in theory, should help make diversity a focus. As of September, Gelb remained at the company while other employees whom sources allege also participated in Riot Games’ so-called “bro culture” had left. You can read all about that here._ _ Kotaku learned this week that Riot did in fact investigate Gelb. In an e-mail sent on Monday to Riot employees, CEO Nicolo Laurent explained that, after an investigation led by law firm Seyfarth Shaw and overseen by a special committee from its Board of Directors, Gelb will remain at the company. He will, however, be put on two-month unpaid leave and receive training. Laurent explained in the e-mail:_ >_As I have mentioned, we are committed to protecting Rioters’ privacy and the integrity of the investigation process. This means that you will not hear me or any other leader discuss individual cases._ >_Having said that, we made a very rare exception in the case of our COO, Scott Gelb. There are factors that collectively drive this exception. The Special Committee of the Board of Directors has specifically requested that one of Scott’s consequences be highly visible. Scott holds one of the most senior roles at Riot and is held to a higher level of accountability and visibility, therefore certain consequences are going to be very visible to Rioters. It’s for these reasons I feel it’s necessary to make an exception.”_ _Before detailing Gelb’s punishment, Laurent said that “Many of the rumors circulating about Scott within the company, in the media and other channels, are not true.” Kotaku has not received any corrections from Riot regarding our continued reporting, and when we asked Riot specifically what claims were “untrue,” a representative declined to comment further. Later in the e-mail, Laurent went on to say that “There were claims made about Scott engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional behavior, particularly during the early days of Riot. And some of these claims were, in fact, substantiated. The conduct alleged in these claims is not acceptable.”_ _Laurent concluded: “Scott could have avoided owning his past and his consequences. He could have left Riot. Scott chose ownership and redemption. I will root for him, will support him through this journey, and will leverage him as a great leader when he returns next year. I hope you will join me.”_ _Several current Riot employees interviewed by Kotaku are furious about Riot’s response to its COO’s conduct. “I think it’s pretty telling that Riot’s commitment to changing their culture only goes as far as firing people who aren’t already insulated from the repercussions of that culture,” said one, who is anonymous for fear of repercussions. “For Riot leadership, protecting their awful friends matters more than protecting their vulnerable employees. And that isn’t going to change unless the workers do something about it directly.” One other current employee described the two-month unpaid leave and training as “a tiny slap on the wrist... I think this is also not respectful towards people that were hurt or offended by his behavior.”_ _Another current employee, who believes that Gelb should be “demoted or outright fired,” told Kotaku that unpaid leave may barely feel like punishment to somebody who likely made loads of money off his early involvement in Riot. On top of that, she added, “This person is in charge of a lot of people and it’s clear that he has giant lapses in judgment... I would say across the board it’s pretty unsatisfying.”_ _Riot Games’ apparently dogged quest to dig into its roots to remove or mend the sources of its employees’ discriminatory behavior has, in instances like this, hit some rocks. _ ------- ** For those interested in the email that was sent to all Rioters, it will be below with the link included. It was published by Variety.** ------ _Rioters,_ I want to take a moment to thank those of you who were able to join in the Investigations Info Session and Q&A this evening. If you weren’t able to join, there will be some limited viewing sessions in each of the Riot offices in the coming days. As mentioned, it will not be available on VOD due to the highly confidential nature of the content shared. You also can find much of the content regarding the process shared in this Riotnet post._ _I feel it’s important to recap for those who could not attend what was shared about a specific case. As I have mentioned, we are committed to protecting Rioters’ privacy and the integrity of the investigation process. This means that you will not hear me or any other leader discuss individual cases._ _Having said that, we made a very rare exception in the case of our COO, Scott Gelb. There are factors that collectively drive this exception. The Special Committee of the Board of Directors has specifically requested that one of Scott’s consequences be highly visible. Scott holds one of the most senior roles at Riot and is held to a higher level of accountability and visibility, therefore certain consequences are going to be very visible to Rioters. It’s for these reasons I feel it’s necessary to make an exception._ _To uphold the integrity of the investigative process, the Board of Directors created a Special Committee (consisting of our first independent director, Youngme Moon, and two C-level Tencent executives) to oversee all investigations related to our senior executives and Founders, and their performance in improving D&I issues at Riot. An independent director is a Board member who has no material business relationship with the company or its parent company (for example, a business relationship could include an employment relationship or equity ownership)._ _Scott’s investigation was handled in the same manner as all other investigations conducted by Seyfarth. Additionally, the Special Committee reviewed the investigation findings and determined the consequences. I won’t share the details of the investigation, or try to be comprehensive. Here’s what I can tell you though, based on the information collected through the investigative process and the Special Committee review. Many of the rumors circulating about Scott within the company, in the media and other channels, are not true. Also, the claims alleging retaliation and cover up from the lawsuit, were determined to be either unsubstantiated or false._ _Having said that, there were claims made about Scott engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional behavior, particularly during the early days of Riot. And some of these claims were, in fact, substantiated. The conduct alleged in these claims is not acceptable._ _In light of these substantiated claims, the Special Committee wanted to take firm disciplinary action that would be visible to the company. As such, Scott will be going on an unpaid leave of absence for two months, starting at the end of this week. During this time, Scott will undergo training with required check-ins to me by the coach and by Scott. In his absence, Scott’s direct reports will continue to run their organizations and will work with me directly._ _As many of you heard directly from Scott today, he believes strongly in leadership accountability, is taking these consequences very seriously, and is committed to returning from his leave with a resolve to be a better leader, a better colleague, and a better Rioter. He is also committed to personally help make Riot a more diverse and inclusive organization._ _To be clear, Scott could have avoided owning his past and his consequences. He could have left Riot. Scott chose ownership and redemption. I will root for him, will support him through this journey, and will leverage him as a great leader when he returns next year. I hope you will join me._ https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/riot-games-scott-gelb-investigation-1203089492/
Share
Best New

We're testing a new feature that gives the option to view discussion comments in chronological order. Some testers have pointed out situations in which they feel a linear view could be helpful, so we'd like see how you guys make use of it.

Report as:
Offensive Spam Harassment Incorrect Board
Cancel