Riot Games, best known as the studio behind League of Legends, has been under fire for some time. The main reason for this is because of the way that the employees are treated and the company forcing said employees into arbitration regarding cases of sexual harassment and discrimination. Riot recently announced that they would soon begin giving new employees the choice to opt-out of this arbitration, but current employees said that this is not enough. This has led to employees at the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices walking out and gathering in a nearby parking lot to protest Riot.
At 2 p.m. PT, Riot employees walked out, with the event expected to last for two hours. "We are walking out against forced arbitration of past, current, and future employees, including contractors and those involved in current litigation," one organizer told Variety. Riot attempted to put a stop to the walkout by announcing the new deal, but that did nothing for current Rioters.
Riot technical product manager Sarah Dadafshar mentioned that the forced arbitration policies makes her unsure of her job. "We’ve all experienced some form of harassment throughout our careers and we want our voices heard," she said. "I was really content working at Blizzard when Riot reached out to me to join them last year, but what really convinced me to jump ship was their advocacy for change and making the industry as a whole a better place and pave the way for what good can be. The recent decision revolving around forced arbitration has me questioning the direction we are moving towards, and I’d like to voice my concern around the matter.
"I’m hoping leadership will listen and realize the impact that the decision they are making has on many Rioters. Ideally, they’d reconsider and help support the whole of Riot equally."
Riot Games also provided a statement ahead of the walkout, and while they support their employees voicing their concerns, they note that they will not be making any changes to their policies during active litigation. Their statement can be found below.
"We support Rioters making their voices heard today. We have asked all managers to make every accommodation to allow Rioters to participate during the 2-4pm window, including freeing up meeting times. We respect Rioters who choose to walkout 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. 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.
"As we have been for the past week, we will continue to listen to Rioters regarding their thoughts on arbitration and we’re thankful for everyone that has taken the time to meet with leadership about this issue."
It's unknown what will happen should Riot continue down the path that they've set, but one thing is clear: employees demand change. You can read more on what other organizers had to say as well as Game Workers Unite's statement right here.
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