Riot Games refuses to budge on arbitration for ongoing employee lawsuits, despite mass walkout

UPDATE: Further staff action pledged. 

UPDATE 4.30PM In a fresh blog post on last week's walkout, Riot has detailed two new measures it has put in place since.

First, there will be a new Diversity and Inclusion Rioters Council led by "engaged, thoughtful Rioters" to encourage discussions and highlight ways the company can improve. Second, Riot has invited "a diverse group" of staff to review the company's Code of Conduct.

The blog describes the walkout as "an important moment in our company's transformation".

Since this blog was put live, walkout organiser Jocelyn Monahan has told Kotaku that staff will now take further action. “We're disappointed leadership doesn't seem to be considering any major changes to their active policy," Monaghan said. "That said, we're blown away by the passion, solidarity, and vulnerability that workers who support the walkout are showing."

ORIGINAL STORY 3.45PM League of Legends maker Riot Games will continue to insist on forced arbitration in its currently-ongoing gender discrimination lawsuits, despite a dramatic protest at its LA studio last week.

More than 150 staff walked out of work at Riot's Los Angeles campus on Tuesday 7th May to protest the company's handling of ongoing staff lawsuits and a studio "bro" culture labelled as systemically sexist by Kotaku's recent investigation.

"Ultimately, given the complexities of ongoing litigation, we will not change our employee argeements while in active litigation," a Riot Games spokesperson told Bloomberg today. "We know not everyone agrees with this decision, but we also know everyone does want Riot to continue to improve."

Riot previously said it would drop mandatory arbitration for future complaints of this nature - but will still insist on it for the current crop of cases. Why is arbitration such a sticking point? Staff say giving the company who they have grievance against control of the process means the process is inherently unfair and will be biased against them.

"Under forced arbitration, employees' only option is to resolve issues through a company-recommended arbitrator," a public FAQ on last week's walkout stated. "Because women and minorities are more likely to file discrimination and harassment suits, they're disproportionately impacted by these policies."

"We don't want to be silenced. We believe every one of us has the right to take action against rights violations. While private arbitration itself isn't necessarily bad, when dealing with the fallout of discrimination and harassment, it should be our lives, our choice. Private arbitration should not be forced."

Signs held at the protest included messages such as "Be The Company You Say You Are" and "I Reported And He Got Promoted".

At the time, striking workers said they would take further action if changes to the requirement for forced arbritration were not put in place by 16th May - yesterday.

For its part, Riot Games has acknowledged the need to address problems raised in the recent investigation and set out a 90-day plan in order to do so. But this sticking point of forced arbitration seems like it will overshadow this effort unless something budges.

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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

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Tom is Eurogamer's news editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and all the stealth Destiny articles.

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