Walkout organizers 'disappointed' by Riot's refusal to change forced arbitration policy

Earlier this month, employees at League of Legends studio Riot Games staged a walkout over the company's policy requiring that disputes with employees be settled through private arbitration rather than through lawsuits. Five current and former Riot employees filed lawsuits against the company in the wake of last year's in-depth Kotaku report into the company's deeply sexist internal culture; Riot moved to block some of those lawsuits by claiming that the employees involved had signed agreements waiving their rights to trials against the company. 

Riot pledged to accommodate employees participating in the walkout (more than 150 ultimately took part) and said that new employees would be allowed "to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims." But not until all active litigation—that is, the lawsuits previously filed against the company—were resolved. That left things at a bit of a stalemate, which is where it all remains, as Riot reiterated its stance in a blog post that went up today. 

"We’ve taken the time to clearly understand the range of perspectives and opinions related to our arbitration agreement, including those shared over the last three weeks. Ultimately, given the complexities of ongoing litigation, we will not change our employee agreements while in active litigation," the company wrote.   

"We know not everyone agrees with this decision, but we also know everyone does want Riot to continue to improve. We remain committed to having a firm answer around extending an opt-out to all Rioters when active litigation concludes. Everything we’ve heard will impact our discussions when we revisit arbitration and we hope to have an answer that will be satisfying to everyone. At a minimum, we will give new Rioters the option to opt out of arbitration on individual sexual harassment claims." 

Riot said that forced arbitration was only one of the factors behind the walkout, and while it won't adjust its current position on that, it is launching a new D&I [Diversity and Inclusion] Rioters Council forum, "to leverage a group of engaged, thoughtful Rioters from teams across the company to participate in formal discussions on D&I." It's also asked a "diverse" range of employees to review the company's code of conduct for areas of concern.   

"Rather than bringing the new code of conduct to Rioters as a finished product, we want representatives of Riot involved in the process, much in the way we drafted our values last year (though we’ll admit that to hit our 30 day goal on this project we’re going to be limited in who we include in this process)," it wrote.   

But walkout organizers Indu Reddy, Ronnier Blackburn, and Jocelyn Monahan aren't satisfied with Riot's response. "Conditions of current Rioters' employment around forced arbitration, including those in active litigation, are unlikely to change anytime soon. We're disappointed leadership doesn't seem to be considering any major changes to their active policy," they said in a statement send to USgamer

"As we continue to pressure Riot to end forced arbitration, we are leveraging that teamwork and solidarity by involving more coworkers in the effort. We are weighing the options for our next steps, and will share more information next week. As always, our main goal is to make sure that workers at Riot feel heard and represented, and above all, safe."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.