Riot Games has requested individual arbitration in the class action lawsuit brought by former employees who accuse the studio of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. In April 2019, Riot had attempted to move the case to arbitration, alleging that the plaintiffs signed arbitration clauses when they were hired.
The studio then relented after employees threatened to walk out if the case was sent to arbitration. Genie Harrison, the plaintiff’s attorney, said that Riot’s attempt to force the case into arbitration would keep “the women from fighting together as a group against the company.”
“If Riot succeeds, it will pay a private judge huge amounts of money to decide the fate of the women’s claims. And all that will happen in secret, with Riot’s discriminatory conduct hidden from the public,” she added.
In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, Riot said that arbitration would enable the studio to “reach a fair and speedy resolution to these cases” and that it is “willing to engage in constructive dialogue to bring these matters to resolution as quickly as possible — so long as the resolution is grounded in the facts of these cases.”
The studio also noted that their arbitration agreements don’t include confidentially clauses, allowing the plaintiffs to freely discuss their claims. There would also not be a cap on damages awarded. After the court agreed to allow the lawsuit to move to arbitration on Monday, January 25, Riot issued a statement that said:
“This ruling will allow us to reach a fair and speedy resolution to these cases, some of which have already been pending for more than two years. We have always been, and will continue to be, willing to engage in constructive dialogue to bring these matters to resolution as quickly as possible — so long as the resolution is grounded in the facts of these cases.”
“Over the last two-and-a-half years, we’ve established new and updated policies and programs to promote inclusion in day-to-day life at Riot and help rebuild trust, increased diversity in our leadership team and across the company, continued to take action to ensure we are equitable to all Rioters, and established new recruiting and hiring processes to better meet our goals and improve candidate experiences.”
The studio added that they intend to remain transparent about ongoing changes within the company. It will also release an annual diversity and inclusion progress report in the next few months.
In 2018, Kotaku spoke with 28 former and current employees at Riot who claimed that the studio routinely engaged in gender discrimination when it came to advancement. They also alleged that the studio encouraged a “bro culture” and that male colleagues and bosses sexually harassed female employees.
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