At least 100 employees at Riot Games, the developers behind the massively popular MOBA game League of Legends, are expected to walkout this afternoon from their Los Angeles, California headquarters today. The demonstration is specifically advocating for the end of a controversial forced-arbitration clause built into the existing contracts of Riot employees.
A Riot walkout organizer who spoke with USG privately says that the group expects at least 100 employees to walk out later today with "probably more" joining on top. The group says it was driven by general issues of sexual harassment and discrimination that was uncovered in an in-depth report by Kotaku.
Since then, five current and former Riot Games employees have filed lawsuits against the company for, amongst other things, violating the California Equal Pay Act. Kotaku's report shined a light on how specifically women at the company were passed over for promotions and raises, despite the work they contributed to the company.
However, a forced arbitration clause baked into the employees' contracts, which prevents them for taking their lawsuits to a public court where Riot's actions could be seen, is protecting Riot's alleged role in the harassment of its employees. Forced arbitration is a common practice in tech company employee contracts, and Google employees similarly held a walkout to protest its inclusion in their contracts. Their walkout succeeded and Google has since removed the clause from employees' contracts.
Riot walkout organizers are hoping for the same with today's event. Organizers specifically cited ending forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination as the reason for today's walkout.
"We are hoping that leadership will reconsider their stance and definitely commit to ending forced arbitration entirely for past, current, and future workers, including contractors and folks in active litigation," said one Riot walkout organizer to USG.
News of Riot's forced arbitration broke in recent weeks and since then the company has announced it will provide an opt-out to the arbitration clause for new employee contracts. Existing Rioters want the clause removed for current employees as well, including those litigating with Riot Games. The company has not committed to ending arbitration with existing employees, including those involved with the lawsuit.
Vice Games first reported on an employee walkout at Riot Games last week. In response, management has announced that it would host small group focus sessions as well as a companywide Q&A session where it first announced the opt-in arbitration clause for future employees, but only after active litigation is over.
We've reached out to Riot Games to get their statement on today's walkout. The company told USG in a statement that it will accomodate for today's walkout, including opening time from 2-4 p.m. to allow for employees to take part in the walkout. The company also said that it will, "respect Rioters who choose to walk out today and will not tolerate retaliation of any kind as a result of participating (or not)."
"While we will not make a change to our policies while in active litigation, last Thursday we announced that we’ve made the call to pivot our approach. As soon as active litigation is resolved, we will give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims," Riot Games says in a longer statement.
"At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer on potentially expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters. We are working diligently to resolve all active litigation so that we can quickly take steps toward a solution."