Riot Games Walk Out
On May 6th, 2019, roughly 150 employees at Riot’s Los Angeles headquarters staged a walkout against Riot’s recent lawsuits of sexism and harassment, as well as Riot’s policy of forced arbitration. Riot has a policy of forced arbitration, where employees and the employer (i.e., Riot) require disputes be resolved internally rather than taking outside legal action. Employees protested in Riot’s parking lots with picket signs, banners that read ‘Riot Unplugged’, and organizers taking to megaphones to reach all 150 walkout employees. Many employees took to twitter in support of the walkout initiative. While unionization in the video game industry has been a growing topic in recent years, Jocelyn Monahan, one of the leaders of the Riot walkout, told The Verge that the movement at Riot was not yet equipped to discuss unionization, but did want immediate fixes to the work environment.
In response to the walk out, Riot released an official statement on May 3rd, 2019, outlining their viewpoint on the arbitration process. In the statement, Riot promises to give all new ‘Rioters’ (a colloquial name for employees) the opportunity to opt out of forced arbitration for issues of sexual harassment and assault after current litigation has been resolved. While not official stated, it seems that this offer would not be extended to current employees. Furthermore, Riot also outlined their plan of action for the 30, 60, and 90 days following the walk out. This included promises to ensure fairness in the recruitment process, training new employees on anti-harassment, and holding value workshops for executive leaders.
Directly related to the walkout is the Kotaku article, which exposed a culture of sexism at Riot and potentially snowballed recent actions against.
The #Riotwalkout was trending on Twitter, with a variety of industry figures tweeting their opinions.
Media or Social Media Coverage:
Riot Games on Riot Games: May 3rd, 2019: Our Commitments on Arbitration and Next Steps for D&I.
Xing Li on Dot Esports: May 3rd, 2019: Riot Games issues official response to employee walkout.
Bret Forbus (Riot Employee) on Twitter: May 6th, 2019: Happy to stand alongside my colleagues today for the #RiotWalkout.
Mel Capperino-Garcia (Riot Employee) on Twitter: May 6th, 2019: Today myself and several of my co-workers are standing up for what is right, just, and fair in regards to Forced Arbitration and Sexual Harassment.
Elie (Riot Employee) on Twitter: May 6th, 2019: Support my colleagues during the #RiotWalkout today. We all love Riot and want our company to be better.
Cecilia D’Anastasio on Kotaku: May 6th, 2019: Over 150 Riot Employees Walk Out To Protest Forced Arbitration And Sexist Culture.
Keza MacDonald on The Guard: May 7th, 2019: Riot Games employees walk out over workplace harassment lawsuits.
Jon Ryan on IGN: May 8th, 2019: The Riot Walkout: What They Hope to Achieve, and Why It's Important
Megan Farokhmanesh on The Verge: May 23rd, 2019: At Riot, the walkout was just the beginning.