The latest nail in the coffin of League of Legends and the fiasco swirling around lay-offs and work culture at Tencent’s esports acquisition is the fact the company has been essentially requiring that employees undergo mandatory Riot Games arbitration for individual sexual harassment claims. The company has allegedly committed to eliminating this process for new staff, but only after existing litigation is done and dusted.

The minds behind League of Legends, one of the most popular MOBAs and esports on the market currently, have been dealing with the blowback from allegations around a toxic workplace environment. They’ve also had their work culture described as sexist by former and current employees since last year.

While the League of Legends community’s attention will be focused on the Mid-Season Invitational, a press release from Riot Games has gone out to publications regarding some promised changes to its current Riot Games arbitration and diversity and inclusion policies. The changes proposed by the company appear to suggest that new employees will not be subject to the current arbitration clause which binds current Rioters. The effect of this clause is that any Rioter who suffers from sexual harassment is forced to go through arbitration to resolve the issue. While Riot Games currently covers the cost of arbitration for its employees who have to undergo it, the fact remains that as a dispute resolution method, it is predicated on both the harasser and the victim being forced to interact for the duration of the process even if they have legal representation.

The press release has been reproduced here:

Our Commitments on Arbitration and Next Steps for D&I

Details on our arbitration agreements and 90-day goals for diversity and inclusion

Over the last eight months, we’ve been internally focused on listening, learning, and acting as we work to transform our culture and create a more diverse and inclusive Riot. Along the way, we’ve shared some of these efforts with you. You can read more about some of that work here, here, and here. In the spirit of transparency, we also want to address the ongoing public conversations around Riot’s arbitration agreements. As prospective Rioters, former Rioters, players, partners, and fans, we need you to know where we stand today and how we expect that to change i n the future, so we’re sharing with you now what we shared with Rioters earlier today.

Over the last week we discussed this topic with Rioters across the organization, including tonight at our bi-weekly all-company town hall. We’ve made a call that we will pivot our approach. 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. At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer around expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters.

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.

We do want to take a moment to break down what arbitration currently means at Riot. Not all arbitration agreements are the same. Here are some details about ours:

  • Riot covers all costs of the arbitrator. Both parties must agree on the arbitrator. Either party can reject an arbitrator — for example, based on their history of past cases — and the case will not proceed until a neutral arbitrator is selected. The plaintiff can hire a lawyer of their choosing. There is no confidentiality clause, which means the plaintiff can communicate about their suit against the company in the same ways they could in court. The plaintiff is allowed fulsome discovery. The agreement does not limit damages, which means there is no cap on total potential damages awarded, or the types of damages awarded — for example punitive or consequential damages.

We are facing a complicated situation with no perfect solution, so arriving at a decision has not been easy. 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. This is where we are right now, but this is an ongoing process and there’s more to come.

Commitments and Timelines for D&I and Culture Initiatives

We last updated our diversity, inclusion, and cultural transformation progress in late February. And now, with Emily and Angela on the team, we can significantly accelerate our People team and D&I initiatives across Riot. At our town hall, we shared our 90 day plan to demonstrate this acceleration:

In 30 days we will:

  • Post an internal job board so it’s easier for Rioters to explore new roles (aka “laneswap”) and advance Update our code of conduct to ensure we’re doubling down in the right places and that all our policies are crystal clear Kick off new training programs in feedback and ally skills Commit to interviewing a diverse slate of candidates for new job listings

Within 60 days we will:

  • Implement a new process for interviewing for values and gaming experience Launch a new anti-harassment training for all new hires Kick off D&I and Values listening sessions Hold Values workshops for the executive team and senior leaders Finish our full pay equity analysis

Within 90 days we will:

  • Make changes to ensure fairness throughout our recruiting process Begin to roll out the results of our “job architecture” review that will help provide logic and consistency in job titles and expectations by roll Launch a new cultural recognition program Create a D&I scorecard that will allow us to continue to track progress over time

While the controversial Riot Games arbitration clause being removed from arrangements with future employees is a good initiative to implement, the reality is that it’s not going to be put into effect until any current lawsuits between the company and employees have run their course. This means that there’s essentially no projected timeframe for Riot to implement these changes or to effect meaningful change any time soon. While the press release notes the existence of a 30, 60, and 90-day plan respectively for its diversity initiative, the issue of how the company deals with sexual harassment remains on the table until existing litigation is wrapped up, and there’s no real end period on that as details of any current lawsuits remain confidential.

Until there’s an effective change from Riot Games regarding this mandatory arbitration for its employees who are victims of sexual harassment, the solutions being posed by the company are essentially hypothetical since they’re conditional on existing lawsuits being dealt with. It’s all well and good for the company to want to implement things like diversity training programs in the meantime and to commit to the bare minimum of interviewing diverse candidates for job openings, but it’s no real solution to the cultural issues that have plagued League of Legends and the company’s workplace sexism for quite some time now.

Next: Riot Games Employees Open Up About Sexist Work Culture

Source: Riot Games