Riot Games employees walked off the job in protest of the company’s stance on forced arbitration for current employees and their allegations of sexist hiring practices and gender discrimination. Riot’s current stance on forced arbitration means that current employees cannot take legal action against the company while still employed by the company, effectively silencing several of the women who came forward in Kotaku‘s investigation on Riot’s sexist work culture.
After many Riot employees walked out in protest of the arbitration clause, Riot Games refused to back down on their stance “while in active litigation.” While some of the lawsuits against Riot Games had to be dropped due to the forced arbitration motion, Riot is still in litigation over gender discrimination as former employees are not affected by the forced arbitration clause of the Riot Games employee contract.
Since the walkout failed to get through to Riot leadership, walkout organizers within the company are already planning their next steps. The first of which is to petition employees and bring their arguments to the company’s board of directors.
As The Verge reports:
This most recent plan comes after the walkout on May 6th, during which more than 150 employees gathered outside the developer’s LA offices. Employees who participated are hoping to end the company’s current practice of forced arbitration, a move that requires employees to resolve disputes internally rather than take outside legal action.
One organizer tells The Verge that because the company and its employees can’t reach an agreement on the issue, “we are appealing to the board to advocate for us. Forced arbitration has been criticized and is being changed at a number of companies.” Riot workers are currently circulating the petition. Although organizers originally planned to present the petition on Friday, they’re now holding it while they decide how to deliver it.
“Riot has always aspired to be at the cutting edge of game companies,” reads an excerpt from the petition, given to The Verge. “We have also stated that we want to be a world leader in diversity and inclusion. To do both, we need to make shifts not just in our game production, but in our employment practices. Making this change even when there’s a clear cost to the company unequivocally shows Riot’s commitment to changing itself, both to current and future Rioters.”
Similar forced arbitration clauses for current employees have been dropped from the employee contracts of several major technology companies including Google, Facebook, and Uber. It is the hope of Riot Games’ employees that Riot will follow suit.