“League of Legends” developer Riot Games held talks with some of its employees on Monday after a Kotaku report claimed they were planning a walkout over the company’s attempt to end two lawsuits against it via forced arbitration, the company tells Variety.
Kotaku published a lengthy, detailed report on alleged cases of sexism and misconduct at the studio in August 2018. Some current and former employees filed lawsuits shortly after for alleged gender discrimination, harassment, and violation of the California Equal Pay Act. On Thursday, Riot reportedly filed a motion to force two of those suits into private arbitration. The women involved in both cases agreed to arbitration clauses written in their contracts when they were hired, Riot’s attorney said.
The walkout will take place on Monday, May 6 if the studio continues to seek the arbitration, according to an internal document from its employees. Its organizers also want the company to end the practice of forced arbitration by a specific deadline.
While Riot issued a public apology after Kotaku’s initial report and took some steps to address the problem, including appointing a new chief diversity officer, some employees say it’s not delivering on all of its promises. “[Kotaku’s] most recent article about forced arbitration finally lit the spark and some folks decided to take action,” one source told the publication.
Riot told Variety via email it’s proud of its colleagues for standing up for what they believe in. “We always want Rioters to have the opportunity to be heard, so we’re sitting down today to listen to their opinions and learn more about their perspectives on arbitration,” it said. “We will also be discussing this topic during our biweekly all-company town hall on Thursday. Both are important forums for us to discuss our current policy and listen to feedback, which are important parts of evaluating all of our procedures and policies, including those related to arbitration.”
While arbitration is often used to settle disputes outside the legal system, many see it as an erosion of workers’ rights. According to the Economic Policy Institute, outcomes obtained through that method are, on average, weaker and success is less likely than when employees bring litigation to the courts. But, employees are generally forced to waive their rights to sue, to participate in a class action lawsuit, or to appeal when they sign contracts containing arbitration clauses.
As for the lawsuits, Riot said while it won’t discuss details about ongoing litigation, “We look forward to resolving all matters through the appropriate processes.”
“Our commitment to building and sustaining a world class, inclusive culture at Riot is unchanged and we value everyone who has come forward to help us become a better company,” it added. “We have acknowledged that there are improvements we can make to our culture and community — we have made progress and are hyper-focused on continuing to do so. We have been evaluating all of our procedures and policies, including those related to arbitration. All of that work is well underway, and as we move forward, we will not hesitate to implement changes once we have thoughtfully assessed that these changes move us is the right direction for Riot and Rioters.”