Riot Games has suspended its chief operating officer, Scott Gelb, for two months without pay following an internal investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct against him, according to an internal email confirmed by Riot Games to ESPN on Thursday.
The news was first reported by Kotaku, which initially obtained the email.
In interview with ESPN.com, co-heads of esports for Riot Games Jarred Kennedy and Whalen Rozelle say the company is still progressing in changing its culture in the wake of reports alleging a culture of sexism inside the development arm of the firm.
Riot Games, maker of League of Legends, has responded to a Tuesday report by gaming website Kotaku documenting a culture of sexual harassment and limitations for women working for the multi-billion dollar company.
Gelb’s suspension comes after several current and former Riot employees alleged that he repeatedly touched their testicles and made other inappropriate contact for comedic effect, the report said. Gelb, 40, will be required to undergo unspecified “training,” Riot said.
Employees were notified earlier this week about Gelb’s suspension in an email sent by Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent, which Kotaku published a portion of, followed by Riot providing Variety with a copy of the entire email on Thursday.
In that email, Laurent stated privacy concerns around Riot employees and the company’s investigation. It also cited Gelb’s position in the company and a decision by Riot’s special committee of the board of directors for why Riot acknowledged Gelb’s punishment both internally and publicly. This and other investigations into alleged sexual and workplace misconduct at Riot were conducted by Chicago-based law firm Seyfarth Shaw.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to evolving our culture, we are thoroughly investigating all claims through our established process,” the company said in a statement sent to ESPN Thursday. “Per this process, outside legal counsel undertook an investigation of allegations about Scott Gelb. 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.”
In August, Kotaku reported on a history of allegations of sexual and workplace misconduct at Riot Games and sexism toward multiple Riot employees. Since that report, Riot has released several statements saying it is working to address the issues.
The company then hired Seyfarth Shaw to conduct internal investigations in August, Riot Games confirmed. In November, the company hired Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei to improve its diversity and inclusion initiatives. Prior to Riot, Frei served as Uber’s senior vice president of leadership and was hired by the rideshare company after it came under fire for allegations of sexual and workplace misconduct.
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