Riot Employees Stage Walkout Against Forced Arbitration, Sexism

Riot Games Korea (CC BY 2.0)
Riot Games Korea (CC BY 2.0) (Photo: Chris Yunker/Flickr)

Several Riot Games employees staged a walkout protest in an effort to counter the company's stand on forced arbitration. Sources familiar with the matter said that over 150 personnel gathered at the parking lot of D Building, some of which bringing "picket signs and gave impassioned speeches."

Kotaku explained that the protest is probably the "first labor-related walkout" that is associated with a large game studio like Riot. The management, it added, is letting their employees join the walkout and has even urged its supervisors to be "accommodating and understanding."

An email of a Riot representative to the source said that the Los Angeles-based gaming studio respects the stand of or "Rioters" and that they will not "tolerate retaliation of any kind." Kotaku foregoing investigation uncovered that there was "endemic sexism" that plagued Riot Games; five current "or former employees" sued the studio for allegedly violating the Equal Pay Act of California.

As counter, Riot filed a motion "to force" the two current employees into arbitration, or a form of alternative dispute resolution where both parties can resolve disputes without going to court. Jocelyn Monahan, Riot Games' social listening strategist, echoed her objection during the protest, saying that they are asking for the cease of forced arbitration "for all past, current and future" employees, including contractors.

A Reddit user shared a document that detailed several key insights on the "Walkout for Rioter Rights." One of those is that employees "carried the emotional burden" of "forcing" victims of harassment and discrimination into arbitration is wrong. They hope that their call to end forced arbitration will also touch on Riot leaders to withdraw the motion in active suits.

The document described forced arbitration as a counter to an employee's right to "resolve their claims in court." Instead of a legitimate legal process, forced arbitration will resolve the dispute via a "company-recommended arbitrator." This particularly makes women and the minority on the losing end considering that they will most likely file discrimination and harassment suits.

One employee who joined the walkout said that she is quitting Riot because she doesn't want "to see people who were protected by people in high places." The source reported that two Riot executives, including the studio's COO, have been retained despite several complaints filed against them via Riot's HR.

There are several reasons why employees are taking their stand and attended the walkout, Kotaku said. Some are showing their support to the two plaintiffs, while others are there to express their discontent on Riot's non-committal to end its "sexist culture." Monahan said towards the end of the protest that those involved in the walkout will "take further action" if Riot doesn't do anything.

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