Riot Games has countered multiple gender discrimination lawsuits by insisting some of the women who have taken legal action waived their rights to sue under the terms of their employment contracts.
Five current and previous female Riot employees instigated lawsuits against the company following a Kotaku investigation that revealed systemic sexism at the developer, including in its recruitment and promotion policies and practices, thus violating the California Equal Pay Act.
According to Kotaku, Riot's attorney insists that two of the five women who sought legal action had agreed to arbitration clauses as part of their employment contracts. These clauses are designed to prevent employees from taking legal action with a judge and jury, and, as Kotaku states, "insulate corporations from legal scrutiny".
It's not a cast iron defence, though, and in just the last few months alone, companies like Google, Facebook, and Uber have ended their own controversial arbitration practices in cases of harassment. Consequently, the attorney representing the women, Ryan Saba, confirmed that while "there can be no dispute that Plaintiff agreed to arbitration", he "plans to fight [it]" and "believes there is precedent for obtaining a jury trial even when parties involved have signed arbitration clauses".
"Today's actions only serve to silence the voices of individuals who speak out against such misconduct and demonstrate that the company's words were no more than lip service," Saba said in a statement.
"While we won't discuss details about ongoing litigation, we look forward to resolving all matters through the appropriate processes," a Riot spokesperson said via email when asked for comment.
"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. 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."