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Riot Games employees organize walkout over forced arbitration

Riot Games employees organize walkout over forced arbitration

May 6, 2019 | By Alissa McAloon

May 6, 2019 | By Alissa McAloon
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More: Console/PC

Riot Games employees plan to stage a walkout this afternoon to protest the studio's response to lawsuits filed against it by current and former staff members across the last year.

According to Kotaku, developers at Riot planned the protest to call attention to grievances with the company’s forced arbitration clauses and the fallout from Kotaku’s report last year on a sexist company culture at Riot Games.

The walkout stems from last month’s news that Riot Games filed motions to force two employees involved in lawsuits against the company into private arbitration, aiming to prevent the cases from reaching a jury trial and instead have the cases be resolved privately. It’s something made possible by arbitration clauses agreed to in each of the employees’ contracts, but the enforcement of those clauses is something employees at companies like Riot and Google are now pushing back against.

In response to the criticism, Riot Games agreed last week to give new hires the option to opt out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims once current litigation against the company is resolved. Following that, Riot also said it would “commit to have a firm answer around expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters.”

Today’s walkout, originally planned ahead of Riot’s slight policy shift, aims to give Riot Games staff a way to publicly voice to leadership that they’re dissatisfied with both that step, other moments of inaction, and a lack of transparency at Riot Games.

Some staff speaking to Kotaku say that they’re walking out in solidarity with the women facing those forced arbitration motions. Others say they plan to walk out because they don’t believe the company has made meaningful changes since Kotaku’s story on its toxic culture.

“The worst-case scenario is that leadership does not budge from their current position and continues to maintain that there will be a ‘future commitment’ about current Rioters,” one of the Riot employees involved in organizing today's walkout tells Kotaku.

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