Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent is facing a lawsuit from his former executive assistant, accusing him of sexual harassment. Sharon O’Donnell, who worked at Riot from October 2017 to July 2020, claims “a pattern of harassing Plaintiff based on her sex or gender,” according to a copy of the suit obtained by Vice.
According to O’Donnell, Laurent frequently commented on her appearance, discussed his underwear size with her, told her to be more feminine, asked her if she “could handle him when they were alone at his house,” and told her she “should ‘cum’ over to his house while his wife was away.”
O’Donnell claims that refusing Laurent’s advances resulted in her duties being taken away and her eventual dismissal in 2020. Riot Games countered by stating that her termination was “based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people” and that “Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
In a statement provided to news outlets, Riot said that it takes “all allegations of harassment or discrimination very seriously, thoroughly investigating claims, and taking action against anyone who is found to have violated our policies.” Riot is investigating the claims against Laurent, but “because some of the claims relate to an executive leader, a special committee of our Board of Directors is overseeing the investigation, which is being conducted by an outside law firm. 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.”
The suit marks the latest in a long string of accusations against Riot personnel that have come to light following Kotaku’s exposé of its working conditions nearly three years ago. COO Scott Gelb was suspended in late 2018 following accusations of inappropriate and unprofessional behavior; more recently, the company has come under fire for its handling of sexual harassment and pay equity class-action lawsuits and its desire to see the suits settled via arbitration. (O’Donnell is not a part of that suit.)
In July 2020 — the same month that O’Donnell’s employment was terminated — Laurent updated the public on the advances his company had made since Kotaku’s article, stating that “no one would be above the law” but that any disciplinary action taken would need to be “rooted in truth and constructed in a way that prioritized facts over rumors or Riot’s reputation.”