'League of Legends' developers and others at Riot Games walked out of work en masse on Monday, protesting the company's use of forced arbitration to settle sexual harassment lawsuits.
Kotaku was among the first news outlets to report about problems in workplace culture at Riot.
At the center of the controversy was COO Scott Gelb, who Kotaku reported "ball tapped, farted on, or humped employees." Riot Games suspended Gelb for two months without pay, but to date he's still an employee.
A number of employees filed lawsuits after that, and legal conflict ensued over Riot Games wanting forced arbitration instead of court battles.
Now, reports Vice, new employees must sign an agreement saying they consent to forced arbitration, not a lawsuit, to settle any employment disputes. That's what today's walkout was targeting.
"This is an action we intended specifically to target forced arbitration," Jocelyn Monahan, a social listening strategist at Riot Games and one of the organizers of the walkout, told Vice News. "We're asking forced arbitration be ended for all past, current, and future riot employees including contractors and also in current litigation."
From reporting at Vice News:
VICE first reported on the planned walkout on April 29. On May 3, Riot released a public statement that said the existing lawsuits would still go through arbitration, but that in the future employees could opt-out of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault claims.
"As soon as current litigation is resolved, we will give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims," Riot said in a statement published on its website. "At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer around expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters."
But Riot employees still walked out today.
"We are asking Riot to fully end forced arbitration for past, current, and future Rioters, including contractors, and to withdraw its use in active litigation," the organizers behind the walkout told VICE in an email. "We stand with the current plaintiffs, whose alleged abusers remain in leadership positions at Riot. Victims of harassment and discrimination should have the right to choose how to confront their abusers, whether that's in private arbitration or a court of law."
NEW: We have reporting on the ground at the Riot Games walkout: "I will not apologize for the trembling of my hands or the wavering of my voice because I will not stand complicit in the face of injustice." https://t.co/7u5gbHXzCZ
— Jason Koebler (@jason_koebler) May 6, 2019
This action, the first of its kind in the video game industry, comes amid a surge in tech worker activism and a growing interest in unionization. https://t.co/DSuJBcwO68
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) May 6, 2019
— Patrick Shanley (@pshanley88) May 6, 2019