Riot Games is looking to keep some of the lawsuits it's facing for alleged gender discrimination out of the courts.
Kotaku today reported that the League of Legends maker has motioned for two of five gender discrimination lawsuits to be subject to private arbitration hearings instead.
The reasoning behind the motions is that the two women in question signed arbitration clauses with Riot when they were hired. Riot noted that "claims for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, as well as for wages due, are expressly listed" in the agreements signed.
A Cornell study of private arbitration outcomes found that employees win less often than they do in legal proceedings, and when they do win, are awarded "substantially lower" amounts. The practice is controversial enough that last year, Google, Facebook, and Uber all dropped their forced arbitration clauses for cases involving sexual harassment and assault. Google followed that up in February by abandoning the practice for all employee disputes.
Last August, Kotaku ran an extensive account of the work culture at Riot, with dozens of then-current and former employees of the studio speaking to a company culture that refused to hire women into leadership roles, subjected them to gendered remarks and overt day-to-day sexual harassment, and pressured them to leave after they complained. After the piece ran, Riot released a statement saying, "We recognise we still have work to do to achieve our goals, which starts with listening to feedback from Rioters and others, and providing Rioters with the guidance and resources they need to uphold our values."
After Riot filed its motions to force arbitration, the plaintiff's lawyer Ryan Saba responded, saying, "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."
A Riot representative told Kotaku, "While we won't discuss details about ongoing litigation, we look forward to resolving all matters through the appropriate processes." The representative added that the company is reviewing "all of our procedures and policies, including those related to arbitration."