Riot Games’ staff fight against sexual discrimination protocol with mass walkout

Silicon Valley is rife with sexism and after video game company Riot Games had hundreds of employees walk out to protest against sexual discrimination, it’s obvious that female workers need more safety and equality

Riot Games’ staff fight against sexual discrimination protocol with mass walkout

Photo credit: Riot Games

It’s a well-known fact that women in the tech industry face a tremendous amount of inequality and sexism and that they’re vastly underrepresented. The ongoing issue in Silicon Valley has had tech titans like Google and Microsoft come in the spotlight after senior executives were called out for discriminating behaviour. 

For instance, in November 2018, thousands of Google employees around the world protested by walking out of their offices which forced the company to deal with the matter of sexual harassment.  

The latest to be added on the list is the video game company famed for League of Legends, Riot Games. On Monday May 6, more than 200 workers walked out of its Los Angeles headquarters to protest the company’s handling of sexual discrimination lawsuits. The issue is that the staff involved in the claims were forced into arbitration – a private forum where a lawsuit doesn’t go in front of a jury – as opposed to taking the matter to court. Employees were holding signs reading “I reported and he got promoted” and “Forced is not a word women like,” as reported by LA Times

Looking at the continued protest and distaste for being pushed into a mediation, the company announced that future employees could opt out of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault claims but that existing lawsuits would still be subject to the arbitration process.

“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. “At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer around expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters.”

Riot Games said it knew the decision would make its employees unhappy. “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,” it said.

The walkout follows an exposè done by Kotaku alleging a Riot Games is home to a sexist work environment where women’s opinions were discounted and they were subjected to sexual harassment. The report also highlighted the culture of endemic sexism which manifested in Riot Games’ recruitment practises and promotion strategies.

Looking at the ubiquity of hostility and gender discrimination in the tech scene which continues to be a matter of concern, much more must be done to address it. The latest Riot Games’ issue is proof that the male-dominated tech industry screams for change and women deserve justice in cases of inequality. 

Varsha Saraogi
Varsha Saraogi

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