Over 150 Riot Games employees held a walk-out at the company’s studio in Los Angeles. This came in response to the company’s forced arbitration policy.
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Forced arbitration is, in this case, symptomatic of Riot’s wider culture of gender discrimination. Two current Riot employees have recently filed lawsuits against the company. The lawsuits cite unequal pay for men and women, unfair hiring and promotion practices. In the end of April, League of Legends publisher motioned to block the legal action forcing the plaintiffs into private arbitration. According the company’s lawyers, the two women specifically waived their right go to court when they were hired.
The motion by the company’s execs seems all the more disheartening since Riot pledged to become “a leader on diversity, inclusion, and culture”. This is something the company committed to after Kotaku posted the results of their investigation into “bros before hoes” workplace culture at Riot.
As discontent was escalating among Riot employees prior to the walk-out, the publisher announced that it would permit all new Rioters to opt out of mandatory arbitration. This, however, only applies to sexual harassment and sexual assault and does not affect the active litigation. Nor is it clear whether the participants of the walk-out will face retaliation for speaking against their employer.
Rioters’ protest seems to be the first labor-related walk-out at a large game studio. In an industry troubled by many abusive practices that have come to light recently, this might signal the beginning of the paradigm shift that will make the workforce more vocal and the executives more accountable.