Riot Games employees have staged a walkout today to protest the company’s forced arbitration policy for alleged misconduct. This appears to be the first ever walkout at a major gaming studio.
According to Kotaku, the studio was accused of having a sexist work environment that sparked anger and lawsuits from five current and former employees. Now, around 100 employees will have participated in the walkout protest.
We are walking out against forced arbitration of past, current, and future employees, including contractors and those involved in current litigation, an organizer said.
One organizer told Kotaku that not all employees will take part in the walkout, as there are roughly 2,500 employees in Riot Games worldwide. Though a small fraction of people staged the protest, it still is a significant number and could encourage more employees to take part in the future if complaints go unresolved.
Insights Researcher and League of Legends Championship Series referee Ronnie Blackburn spoke to the crowd,
I love my job. I love what I do here. And that’s why I’m terrified to be here right now. But I will not apologize for the trembling of my hands and the wavering of my voice. … Whether you are here to show your support, express your dissent or simply discuss so that you can better understand the situation, this is a hard and scary thing to be a part of, so thank you. To the senior leadership, I ask you: Why forced arbitration?
What we want is a timely end to the systemic silencing of employees and the promise of a fair trial for the current plaintiffs. We are not dissonant for the sake of dissonance. We are dissonant for the sake of justice, for the sake of Riot living up to its values and for the sake of Riot being the great place that we all want it to be.
We are not here because we hate Riot. We are here because we believe in the values that Riot has proclaimed. Rioters are Riot. We are Riot.
In August, Kotaku did an investigation at Riot Games and discovered sexist and toxic workplace conditions. Employees at Riot Games then decided to pursue legal action against them. However, Riot filed a motion to block these lawsuits and force them into private arbitration, thus, this walkout happened in response to that.
If you don’t know what arbitration is, when Riot Games hired their employees, the studio made them sign an arbitration clause that meant that they would not be allowed to take any legal actions against the company. Instead, they must go through private arbitration, which is basically a legal system without a judge or jury. Such agreements are tactics used by companies to prevent getting sued by their employees.
On the other hand, and to the matter of the protest, Riot has said that the studio will do its best to accommodate the walkout, and will not tolerate retaliation of any kind as a result of participating. But also reaffirmed that it will not change its policies” while in active litigation.”
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. 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,” the rep said. “We are working diligently to resolve all active litigation so that we can quickly take steps toward a solution.
We also learned that one of the managers at Riot Games tired to hire a woman because she had a beautiful body and the manager heard that she had posted her nude pictures online.
What do you think of the protest that is going on at Riot Games? Post your comments below and let us know your opinion.