As Deadline Passes, Riot Games Doesn’t Budge On Key Walkout Issue

Ryze: Call of Power
Ryze: Call of Power
Image: Riot Games

Despite a walkout of hundreds of its employees last week, League of Legends publisher Riot Games said last night that they will not change their stance on forced arbitration. Protesting employees had given the company until yesterday to make a change, threatening to escalate their efforts if it did not.

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“We know not everyone agrees with this decision, but we also know everyone does want Riot to continue to improve,” the company said in a blog post last night.

The walkout was inspired by Riot’s motion to force arbitration in the case of two current employees who filed a lawsuit alleging Riot violated California’s Equal Pay Act, following a Kotaku report on endemic sexism at the company. By their first day of work, employees at Riot waive their right to get any lawsuit against the company in front of a jury. Recently, Google ended forced arbitration after 20,000 employees walked out. (Facebook, eBay and AirBnB followed suit.) The controversial practice has become a hot-button issue as employees at large tech companies argue that it prevents them from holding employers accountable for misbehavior.

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Prior to the walkout, Riot said that it would allow new employees to opt out of the arbitration agreement. They continued that they would consider extending that to current employees “as soon as current litigation is resolved.” In a blog post last night, Riot announced that “Ultimately, given the complexities of ongoing litigation, we will not change our employee agreements while in active litigation.” That was essentially a reiteration of their prior position, though they left the door open for change: “We remain committed to having a firm answer around extending an opt-out to all Rioters when active litigation concludes.”

At the walkout, employees announced that if Riot didn’t make a commitment to end forced arbitration by May 16, they would escalate the issue. Reached for comment, one walkout organizer, Jocelyn Monahan, speaking on behalf of the group, said they will be taking further action. “We’re disappointed leadership doesn’t seem to be considering any major changes to their active policy. That said, we’re blown away by the passion, solidarity, and vulnerability that workers who support the walkout are showing,” she said in a message to Kotaku.

She continued, “As we continue to pressure Riot to end forced arbitration, we are leveraging that teamwork and solidarity by involving more coworkers in the effort.” Although Monahan was vague about their efforts’ next steps, it appears organizers will continue pushing Riot to end forced arbitration and come to a decision on how next week.

Senior reporter at Kotaku.

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DISCUSSION

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You know what would REALLY help? If players showed some solidarity with the people who make the games they love and stopped playing League of Legends until Riot gets their act together. They’re sitting on disgusting amounts of eSports money that they’ve made off of their mistreated and exploited workers.

Otherwise, fucking burn Riot to the ground. They don’t deserve to exist anymore. This forced arbitration bullshit is just an extralegal way for them to avoid any sort of punishment for their terrible corporate culture. If they actually wanted to improve, they would accept the legal consequences for their actions first. What a garbage company. I feel awful for the employees there who feel trapped because this shitty industry has forced them to choose between an abusive job or no job at all.