Over 150 disgruntled Riot Games employees went out of the League of Legends Los Angeles publishing office today to protest against the company's attitude to forced arbitration. Standing on a parking lot on the Riot campus, staff kept stacking signs and gave disastrous speeches.
"We ask that forced labor be terminated for all former, current and future Riot employees, including entrepreneurs and in today's court cases," said Jocelyn Monahan, a social listening strategist at Riot, in an interview with Kotaku . Monahan later wanted to tell his gathering colleagues through a megaphone, "asking to feel safe, not justifying you."
Monahan, standing in front of a sign reading "Rioters Unplugged", a game on Riot's internal "Riot Unplugged" meetings. had an important point she hoped to get over to her colleagues – even those who chose to stay in their desk and continue to work. "We make it Riot great. I want us to feel solidarity and relationship with each other. I want us to feel connected. I want us to feel that our voices are heard and heard in a way that matters." Colleagues talked about talking through the megaphone, with several admitting they were afraid to attend and be labeled "anti-Riot." One said, "I was worried. I was like, "What if I go and no one discovers?" I'm a little less worried about it now. "Others show their support with #riotwalkout hashtag, which has been hundreds of tweeting.
Today's protest appears to be the first work-related exit for a large gaming studio like Riot. The company's management allows its employees to participate and has encouraged managers to be accommodating and understanding. In an email to Kotaku tomorrow, a Riot representative said: "We respect Rioters who choose to leave today and will not tolerate retaliation of any kind due to attend ( or not. " Five current or former employees sued the company, in part, to violate the California Equal Pay Act, last week Riot sent a motion to force two of the current employees into arbitration, an extreme forum where a costume does not precede a jury. Recently, 20,000 Google employees left to terminate forced arbitration; months later, Google announced it would comply, but only for harassment cases. Last year, Riot announced it would now allow incoming employees to opt out of forced arbitration for harassment cards and would consider extending it to current employees "as soon as the current lawsuits are resolved."
Giving a speech, a current Riot employee announced she stopped in two weeks. "I stop because I don't want to see people protected by people in high places in Riot," the workers said. Two senior employees at Riot Games, including the COO, have been retained by the company (in the case of the COO after two months of unpaid leave) despite several complaints against them to HR and otherwise being accused of everything from gender-based marketing strategies to ball-grabbing in Kotaku reports. Add to that she is worried that she will be marked with a red flag, she continued, "I don't even spend time with my husband working here because I'm worried that he'll be tagged too."
Nearly half a dozen present said that while they rarely speak in slack or meetings, they felt compelled to express concerns about Riot's culture today.
Signs of the protest read: "It shouldn't take all this to do The right thing, "" Be the company you say you are, "and" Put one of us, you ask us all. "In a Kotaku report earlier today, employees expressed several reasons they wanted to participate. While more specifically attending to support the two plaintiffs against Riot, others became frustrated that eight months after Kotaku 's investigation, they have not seen concrete signs that Riot is dismantling its sexist culture. One said, "So far I have not seen a single outcome of our diversity and inclusion work on Riot. I have not seen a single metric or number to indicate that things have improved and I have not seen a single project completed."
Another employee, who is male, explained, "While I totally believe Riot is doing all they can at the moment to end future arbitration, I see value in presenting a non-violent, unified vote. Like someone with a voice , I lend it to others who feel that they may not have one or be unheard. "
Updated: 5.06.2019, 8:58 pm ET: Towards the end of the walkout, Monahan made a message about that if Riot Management does not commit any form of forced arbitration by May 16 – the date of the next Riot Unplugged meeting – she and others involved in the exit will take further action, another walkout organizer, Riot writer Indu Reddy, could not Dive into the details of what it will mean, but remember n told Kotaku that "we have plans and we have days that we plan, and we have commitments we have answers to. "
Reddy also said that despite Riot's statement, retaliation is an ongoing concern." We can face unforeseen consequences despite leadership's own commitments, because leadership is a unity, and there are many rebels throughout org, "she said. "We will prepare ourselves for retaliation. I think it would not be smart not to plan for it. But we do not assume either because the management said they would not retaliate – for this, anyway. We will continue to request confirmation for future demonstrations. "
However, the mood at the exit was generally positive. Robin, a Los Angeles chapter of lawyer group, Team Workers Unite, expressed hope that today's tour will inspire other game developers.
" That this action went so well – There were people on the microphone, everyone was so excited, there were so many who shared their stories. I think it will inspire many other people at businesses to realize that they have a lot of power over their workplace conditions, says Robin Kotaku . "This is going to be a huge example for people to know that they can make the conditions better."