Riot Games employees are planning a walkout on Monday afternoon to protest forced arbitration from the company, as reported by Kotaku.
Following an investigative report by Kotaku in 2018 that chronicled dozens of employees coming forward about gender discrimination and harassment, at the studio thats behind League of Legends – five current and former Riot Games employees have since filed lawsuits.
Late last month, Riot Games filed a motion that blocked two of the lawsuits, as they stated the two women signed arbitration agreements – giving up their rights to sue Riot Games – the moment they were hired with the company.
Some of the employees then organized a walkout in disagreement with the company. Riot Games had a meeting to address the upset, while announcing the following day that incoming employees would now have the option of opting out of forced arbitration for harassment lawsuits, and they would consider bringing that option to current employees – after the current lawsuits are resolved.
“I think having executives get up for two hours and do the classic, roundabout series of denials helped other Rioters wake up to the fact that this is actually happening here,” one employee said. “The impression most Rioters got is that [the executives] do care about it, a bit. They care about being publicly humiliated.”
An estimated number of 100 employees will participate in the walkout, which is seemingly the first ever in history at a gaming studio. Reasons for those participating vary, with some disagreeing on Riot Games’ outlook towards forced arbitration, and others due to lack of progression with gender equality and diversity efforts at the studio.
“It’s been eight months since the original [Kotaku] article was released and so far I haven’t seen a single outcome of our diversity and inclusion efforts at Riot,” a current employee said. “I haven’t seen a single metric or number to indicate things have improved and I haven’t seen a single project get finished.”
“I’m walking out as a symbolic action to signal to leadership that I care about this issue,” another employee said. “I hope leadership takes the time to seriously listen to the issues.”
Riot Games responded to the original allegations publicly in late August of 2018 with an apology letter on their website titled, Our First Steps Forward. The apology stated, “Inclusivity, diversity, respect, and equality are all non-negotiable. While there is much to improve, there is a tremendous amount of good at Riot that will drive this change. This is our top priority until we get it right.”
Riot Games is supporting the walkout on Monday, with a representative saying, “We have asked all managers to make every accommodation to allow Rioters to participate during the 2-4pm window, including freeing up meeting times. We respect Rioters who choose to walkout today and will not tolerate retaliation of any kind as a result of participating (or not).”
In a recent blog post, Riot Games detailed their plans to launch anti-harassment training programs for new employees, discuss pay equity, and explained their new outlook on arbitration.
Game Workers Unite will have volunteers in attendance to hand out water and assist with any medical needs. A representative from the organization told Kotaku, “Our industry has seen strikes, work slowdowns, and other forms of direct action over the years, and we encourage workers in the industry to learn that history of folks standing up for themselves and their coworkers. The workers participating in the walkout at Riot today are evoking and building on a deep legacy of worker democracy and power in the tech industries.”
IGN will update this article with any information during and following the walkout.
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Jessie Wade is a news writer for IGN. Chat with her on Twitter @jessieannwade.
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