Riot Games employees are considering a walkout after it was revealed the developer was trying to block a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit by insisting some of the women involved had agreed to arbitration clauses when they signed their employment contracts.
“Talk of a walkout has been brewing among a number of folks with varying levels of investment since Kotaku’s first article hit,” a source – who’d been granted anonymity since discussing issues could impact their employment – told Waypoint, “and leadership consistently promised transparency/actions to be taken and then did not deliver on that promise.”
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.
“I know yesterday’s article about Riot’s motion to compel arbitration feels like we’re not moving forward,” said Riot’s chief diversity officer, Angela Roseboro, in internal correspondence to staff obtained by Waypoint. “And I have to say for me, it demonstrates we still have work to do. There are pros, cons, and nuances to the discussion of arbitration, especially given the active litigation against Riot. It can be complex so these types of topics are best discussed live where it’s easier to have a conversation. I encourage all of you to ask as many questions in this Thursday’s Unplugged, and our promise to you is we will be as transparent as we possibly can.
“We’re also aware there may be an upcoming walkout and recognise some Rioters are not feeling heard,” Roseboro added. “We want to open up a dialogue on Monday and invite Rioters to join us for small group sessions where we can talk through your concerns, and provide as much context as we can about where we’ve landed and why. If you’re interested, please take a moment to add your name to this spreadsheet. We’re planning to keep these sessions smaller so we can have a more candid dialogue.”
However, some employees remain unsatisfied with this response.
“When Angela Roseboro offered to schedule focus sessions with people,” said one employee, “there was backlash because people were frustrated at yet another example of closed-door discussions instead of transparency. Overall, I think Rioters are sick of feeling like they have no visibility into what leadership is actually doing to improve.”
A further company-wide email to employees passed to Waypoint purports Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent acknowledged the talk of a walkout and insisted the company was “very empathetic to this and will always support Rioters in leveraging forums that allow voices to be heard”.
In an official statement to the press Laurent said: “We’re proud of our colleagues for standing up for what they believe in. We always want Rioters to have the opportunity to be heard, so we’re sitting down today with Rioters to listen to their opinions and learn more about their perspectives on arbitration. We will also be discussing this topic during our biweekly all-company town hall on Thursday. Both are important forums for us to discuss our current policy and listen to Rioter feedback, which are both important parts of evaluating all of our procedures and policies, including those related to arbitration.”