Riot COO suspended following sexual harassment investigation

Scott Gelb has been suspended without pay for two months, but some are calling for harsher punishment.

Image via Riot Games

League of Legends publisher Riot Games has been embroiled in a human resources fiasco over the last few months after an article accused the company of maintaining a culture of sexism. Now, after an internal investigation by Riot, Kotaku reports that COO Scott Gelb has been suspended for two months without pay for his role in several harassment incidents.

Kotaku originally published their findings about Riot’s toxic workplace culture in August after an extensive eight-month investigation that included interviews with current and former employees. One name that was brought up consistently was Gelb’s. He was accused of inappropriate touching of both male and female colleagues as well as farting near people’s faces.

According to Kotaku’s sources, Gelb’s actions were well-known within the company. And his role as a top executive meant that he was modeling behavior for subordinates to follow.

Following the release of the article, Riot has responded with
several statements and hired law firm Seyfarth Shaw to investigate. In an email sent to employees this week, Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent indicated that many results of the internal investigation would not be made public. But given the highly visible nature of Gelb’s role, Riot’s board wanted his punishment to be “highly visible.”

In the same email, Laurent called many of the allegations against Gelb “untrue.” It’s unclear what Riot’s investigation turned up about Gelb or which allegations Riot believes to be unfounded. As it stands, Gelb’s punishment seems light, especially in the #MeToo era, as numerous executives have been dismissed for sexual harassment allegations. Kotaku’s report indicates that several employees are unhappy over the short duration of Gelb’s leave.

Update Dec. 13 6:40pm CT: Riot Games has released the following statement on the matter:

“As part of our ongoing commitment to evolving our culture, we are thoroughly investigating all claims through our established process. 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. We can also confirm that many of the rumors circulating about Scott within the company, the media, and other channels were actually not true.”