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Riot attempts to block sex discrimination legal action by referencing ‘arbitration clauses’ in employment contracts

Riot Games has responded to a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit by stating some of the women involved cannot proceed as they had agreed to arbitration clauses when they signed their employment contracts.

Issues about Riot’s alleged unacceptable workplace culture originated after a report by Kotaku took contributions from dozens of members of Riot staff both past and present. While not all female employees have experienced issues, it painted a picture of a studio with a systemic culture of sexism, prompting a formal apology from Riot.

Subsequently, five Riot Games employees – some former, some present – filed a class action lawsuit against the company, alleging the publisher of a “sexually-hostile working environment” that has stifled their pay and career prospects because they are women.

Now, according to a new report by Kotaku, two of the five women named in the action had agreed to arbitration clauses – a legal measure to prevent employees from taking legal action with a judge and jury present – as part of their standard employment contracts.

While Ryan Saba, the attorney representing the women, agrees “there can be no dispute that [some] Plaintiff[s] agreed to arbitration”, he revealed that he “plans to fight [it]” as he “believes there is precedent for obtaining a jury trial even when parties involved have signed arbitration clauses”. It’s an interesting defence, particularly as Google, Uber, and Facebook were all recently pressured to remove the same controversial clauses from their employment contracts.

“Today’s actions only serve to silence the voices of individuals who speak out against such misconduct and demonstrate that the company’s words were no more than lip service,” Saba said.

“While we won’t discuss details about ongoing litigation, we look forward to resolving all matters through the appropriate processes. Our commitment to building and sustaining a world-class, inclusive culture at Riot is unchanged and we value everyone who has come forward to help us become a better company,” a Riot spokesperson stated via an email statement.

“We have acknowledged that there are improvements we can make to our culture and community – we have made progress and are hyper-focused on continuing to do so.

We have been evaluating all of our procedures and policies, including those related to arbitration. All of that work is well underway, and as we move forward, we will not hesitate to implement changes once we have thoughtfully assessed that these changes move us is the right direction for Riot and Rioters.”

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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