League of Legends developer Riot Games has suspended its COO Scott Gelb for two months without pay for his role in several sexual harassment cases in the company.
Riot has been in hot water ever since Kotaku first published a report back in August detailing a toxic workplace culture in the company where sexual harassment runs rampant. The report was the result of an extensive eight-month investigation that centered on interviews with current and former Riot employees.
Gelb was constantly brought up in those interviews, where he was accused of many inappropriate actions, including inappropriately touching both male and female colleagues as well as farting near their faces.
“After carefully reviewing and considering the findings, the Special Committee of Riot’s Board of Directors determined that a two-month, unpaid leave of absence, along with training, was the appropriate action given the allegations that were substantiated,” Riot said in a statement.
Following the release of Kotaku’s article in August, Riot responded with several statements and by hiring law firm Seyfarth Shaw to investigate the allegations.
Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent said in an email sent to the company’s employees that most of the results of their internal investigation would not be made public.
Given the highly visible and influential nature of Gelb’s role, with him being a top executive meaning that he was modeling behavior for others to follow, Riot wanted his punishment to be “highly visible” as well.
In the same email sent to Riot employees, Laurent called many of the allegations against Gelb “untrue.” Riot also doubled down on its stance on its COO’s actions in their statement following his suspension, saying “many of the rumors circulating about Scott within the company, the media, and other channels were actually not true.”
According to Kotaku’s report on Gelb’s suspension, many Riot employees were unhappy over the short duration of Gelb’s suspension and the company’s insistence that the accusations against him were untrue.
As it stands, the outcome of the situation in Riot has been disturbing for many, given that the rise of the #MeToo movement has led to numerous executives being dismissed for sexual harassment allegations. With how things are going on in Riot, it stands as a discouraging reflection on how the esports industy has been treating issues such as sexual harassment and gender equality behind closed doors.