League of Legends developer rejects employee demands over forced arbitration

League of Legends developer, Riot Games, has rejected employees’ demands to scrap forced arbitration for sexual harassment and discrimination complaints, following the walkout of over 100 staff at the studio’s LA offices last week.

In a statement made Thursday, made after a workers’ townhall meeting, the studio says, “Ultimately, given the complexities of ongoing litigation, we will not change our employee agreements while in active litigation”, adding that, “we know not everyone agrees with this decision, but we also know everyone does want Riot to continue to improve”.

This means that, at least for the time being, employees at Riot will have to use private arbitration to get sexual harassment and discrimination-related complaints resolved – they will not be able to sue.

It isn’t clear whether the company intends to follow through with the pledges it made in the days preceding the staff walkout given this recent statement, at which time it said it would, “give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims”, as well as, “commit to have a firm answer around expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters”, once current litigation had been resolved.

However, in its latest statement, Riot has said that it will create a diversity and inclusion council, with a “diverse group” of people invited to help review aspects of its code of conduct, though further details on this are not yet clear.

This statement from Riot, most famous for its flagship MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) title, League of Legends, marks the most recent development in a dispute with some of its employees over the issue of mandatory arbitration, reaching back over the last year. Last year, Kotaku released a story reflecting the complaints of 28 current and ex-members of Riot staff, who highlighted the company’s ‘bro culture’.  Sexism appeared to be ingrained at all levels, negatively impacting promotion chances, as well as day-to-day interactions, and other aspects of experience working for the company.

Since then, five women have sued Riot, citing various reasons that tie in to a sexist working culture, from pay discrepancies to harassment, with two Rioters (one former) filing a class-action lawsuit over issues including gender discrimination and misconduct.

According to Bloomberg, Rioters who organised the walkout have not yet responded on this issue.

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