The Riot employee walkout will be happening today. Current employees are protesting the company’s decision to block former employees from filing lawsuits against the studio.
As things stand now, five current and former Riot Games employees have filed lawsuits against the company. These lawsuits allege, among other things, that the company is in violation of the California Equal Pay Act. This came after Kotaku published a report detailing a culture of widespread sexism at the League of Legends publisher. Said culture reportedly manifests in Riot’s hiring practices, promotion strategies, and wider corporate culture in general.
Riot filed a motion to block those lawsuits late last month, and that motion is what the employees are protesting with the walkout. That said, Waypoint reports that this walkout has been in the works among a number of employees since the Kotaku exposé last summer.
Riot executives held a meeting with its employees in an attempt to quell the walkout before it started. As part of this, Riot promised to give incoming employees the ability to opt out of forced arbitration. The developers also stated that they were open to giving current employees the same option as soon as their current litigation was resolved. This apparently wasn’t enough for many employees however, and as such the walkout will continue.
“I think having executives get up for two hours and do the classic, roundabout series of denials helped other Rioters wake up to the fact that this is actually happening here,” stated one employee of the meeting. “The impression most Rioters got is that [the executives] do care about it, a bit. They care about being publicly humiliated.”
In response to the walkout, Riot has told Kotaku that the studio will be making adjustments to allow employees to participate. “We have asked all managers to make every accommodation to allow Rioters to participate during the 2-4pm window, including freeing up meeting times,” stated a Riot representative. “We respect Rioters who choose to walkout today and will not tolerate retaliation of any kind as a result of participating (or not).”
However, the same representative confirmed that Riot would not change its policies regarding employee arbitration until the current litigation was resolved.
The Riot employee walkout appears to be the first walkout in a major video game company. What happens here may have repercussions not just for Riot, but for the industry as a whole.