League of Legends dev agrees to scrap mandatory arbitration, but only once current lawsuits are over • Eurogamer.net
In response to threats of staff walkouts, League of Legends developer Riot Games has made 13 specific commitments to improving its much-maligned studio culture, all rolling out within the next 90 days. It has also promised to scrap its mandatory arbitration clause in new employee contracts.
Word of planned walkouts first began to spread earlier this week, via a report from Waypoint. The proposed action by employees was a direct response to the news that Riot’s attorney was attempting to prevent two of the five ongoing gender discrimination lawsuits currently filed against the studio from progressing, by insisting that those involved waived their rights to sue under the terms of their employment contracts – a move which would also impact any future attempted legal action against the company.
That news did not sit well with Riot staff, particularly given that many believe Riot’s executive team has failed, despite repeated promises, to tackle systematic sexism within the studio.
In response to the very public conversation around its business practices over the last week, Riot has now announced that it will “pivot [its] approach” to mandatory arbitration. “As soon as current litigation is resolved,” it wrote, “we will give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims.” As for existing staff, it (less decisively) writes that, once current legal action is over, it will, “commit to have a firm answer around expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters.”
Given that the studio will still attempt to prevent current gender discrimination lawsuits from progressing, and given that its new policy will not currently apply to existing employees (if at all), it’s questionable whether many will consider this latest response adequate – as Riot is well aware. Its lengthy post continues, “We know that this resolution will not satisfy all Rioters. We understand and respect Rioters who choose to protest this decision on Monday, and admire their conviction and willingness to stand up for their beliefs.”
Elsewhere in its post, Riot outlines 13 key commitments to be implemented within the next 90 days, all designed to improve its company culture. These include establishing “a new process for interviewing for values and gaming experience”, launching “a new anti-harassment training for all new hires”, and finishing its “full pay equity analysis”.
“We are facing a complicated situation with no perfect solution, so arriving at a decision has not been easy,” said Riot, “We are working diligently to resolve all ongoing litigation, so that we can quickly take steps toward a solution that more Rioters feel good about.”