Riot won’t drop mandatory arbitration for existing litigation

Company affirms its position following staff walkout

Riot Games has said it won’t drop a mandatory arbitration policy preventing several employees from taking sexual harassment and assault claims to court, rejecting calls from workers who staged a walkout over the issue last week.

Riot previously said it will amend its policy, but not until existing gender discrimination complaints are resolved — and so far it has only committed to offering the revised policy to new employees, as it says current and former staff waived the right to sue when they were hired.

The League of Legend publisher affirmed its position on the matter in a website update on Thursday.

“The Rioter walkout was an important moment in our company’s transformation, and it reaffirmed our commitment to keep fighting to make this the company we believe it can be,” it said.

“We’ve taken the time to clearly understand the range of perspectives and opinions related to our arbitration agreement, including those shared over the last three weeks. Ultimately, given the complexities of ongoing litigation, we will not change our employee agreements while in active litigation.

“We know not everyone agrees with this decision, but we also know everyone does want Riot to continue to improve,” Riot added. “We remain committed to having a firm answer around extending an opt-out to all Rioters when active litigation concludes.

“Everything we’ve heard will impact our discussions when we revisit arbitration and we hope to have an answer that will be satisfying to everyone. At a minimum, we will give new Rioters the option to opt out of arbitration on individual sexual harassment claims.”

Riot, which is currently facing five gender discrimination suits, recently filed motions to prevent two of the cases from going to court, sparking plans for last week’s walkout, which was attended by about 200 employees.

Over the past 18 months, leading technology companies including Microsoft, Facebook and Google have dropped the controversial practice of forcing employees to settle sexual harassment claims in private arbitration, a practice which critics argue stacks the odds in the employer’s favour.

One of the Riot walkout organisers, Jocelyn Monahan, told Bloomberg workers at the company had been inspired by events at Google.

“People are thinking about the basic concepts of organising,” she said. “Workers hold the power because you are the ones who can stop the company from functioning.”

One of the lawsuits Riot is facing, which plaintiffs want certified as a class action, accuses the firm of “creating, encouraging, and maintaining a work environment that exposes its female employees to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the basis of their gender or sex”.