Riot Games made motions earlier this week to prevent two former employees from taking legal action after the two women filed lawsuits for gender discrimination. The League of Legends publisher stated that the women waived their rights to sue the company when they were hired.
Riot’s attorney explained that the women had agreed to arbitration clauses, a common inclusion in employment contracts, designed to protect companies from legal situations such as these. This clause forces staff to take their complaints to private arbitration rather than pursuing legal action.
While this is a common practice, it’s also considered controversial. Many Silicon Valley companies, including Google and Facebook, have ended their own forced arbitration practices for harassment cases.
The lawsuits against Riot stem from an in-depth Kotaku investigation last year. First-hand accounts from former employees detailed not only gender descrimination and unequal pay, but also sexual harassment and molestation.
The plaintiffs, Jessica Negron and Melanie McCracken, sy they are demanding compensation for damages and unpaid wages. They are hoping the case will expose Riot’s discrimination and harassment of female employees.
The subject of the lawsuits stem from the company’s hiring and promotion practices, which the former employees believe violated the California Equal Pay Act.
The lawyer representing the plaintiffs against Riot, Ryan Saba, told Kotaku that he plans to fight the forced arbitration, since he believes there is prescendent for obtaining a jury trial despite this.
“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,” Saba said.
When Kotaku asked for a statement from Riot, a spokesperson sent over a statement that expressed that the company has a “committment to building and sustaining a world class, inclusive culture at Riot.”
They went on to say that they acknowledge the need for improvement with their culture and community. But they also noted that they feel they’ve made progress.
Recently, Riot hired their first-ever chief diversity officer. At the time of the company’s initial announcement, Angela Roseboro said that Riot’s culture would definitely be able to change, despite “setbacks and hurdles.”
While it’s unsure what these “setbacks” are, Riot faced harsh criticism for letting COO Scott Gelb keep his position after an ambiguous training period despite repeated complaints of harassment.