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Riot employees threaten walkout over forced arbitration

League of Legends developer's attempt to keep workers' gender discrimination claims out of court draws backlash

Riot Games is dealing with unrest among its ranks. According to Waypoint, employee talk of a walkout at the company has grown loud enough to draw the attention of executives.

The current discord at the studio was stoked by last week's news that Riot wanted a number of employees' gender discrimination lawsuits moved out of the courts and into private arbitration proceedings. Riot said the employees in question signed agreements waiving their right to sue the company when they first accepted jobs there.

Waypoint reported that Riot's chief diversity officer Angela Roseboro addressed the potential of a walkout over the weekend in an employee Slack channel, recognizing that the company was aware "some Rioters are not feeling heard."

"I know yesterday's article about Riot's motion to compel arbitration feels like we're not moving forward," Roseboro said. "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."

Roseboro asked employees to ask questions during the company's regular town hall presentation this Thursday, and said Riot would hold "small group sessions where we can talk through your concerns," asking those interested to add their names to a spreadsheet.

Waypoint also obtained an email Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent sent to employees today about the possibility of a walkout in which he reiterated Roseboro's desire for discussion on the topic and said, "We're proud of our colleagues for standing up for what they believe in."

A Riot employee told Waypoint the offer of small group sessions drew further backlash from people "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."

Last year, Riot promised significant culture change and improvements after a Kotaku report with dozens of then-current and former employees described a deeply discriminatory company culture. It has since hired Roseboro to be its first chief diversity officer and suspended COO Scott Gelb for two months for "inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour," which reportedly included farting on employees, dry-humping them, and slapping or flicking testicles.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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