By CCN: As a fervent gamer and fan of Riot Games’ flagship product, "League of Legends," I am both ashamed and disgusted to realize I’ve devoted hundreds of hours to a company who prefers to silence employees, rather than deal with issues transparently.
Ex-Employees Sue 'League of Legends' Creator
The gaming giant, in case you haven't heard, is attempting to muzzle four sexual harassment lawsuits through forced arbitration just a few months after taking a public stance against gender discrimination in the workplace.
Melanie McCracken, who is the second plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit again Riot Games divulged the following information, according to Kotaku:
"When McCracken complained to HR about her boss' response and gender-based discrimination at Riot, HR failed to keep the meeting confidential and leaked the information to her supervisor. McCracken took a new position in 2015 as an office manager in the North America region. Her former supervisor, the complaint said, was promoted in a senior position there in 2016. Then, the complaint says, she was apparently 'given a five-month countdown to find a new position or be fired.’”
Other first-hand accounts include co-workers sharing unsolicited nudes and threats of wrongful termination due to improperly handled HR reports.
Not even prospective hires are safe from the alleged discriminatory practices in question:
Shouldn’t have taken a scandal for this to happen. Create an environment where female employees aren’t afraid to speak out. I’ve interviewed for your company 3 times. Each time I was belittled and intimated by male managers. The recruiters were always sweet. Fix it.
— 𝒥𝑒𝓈𝓈𝒾𝒸𝒶 𝒟𝒾𝒶𝓃𝑒✨ (@_MrsRizz) August 11, 2018
The real question is, should it have taken this long for Riot to fix the issues they've known about for months, if not years?
In response to the planned protest, Chief Diversity Officer, Angela Roseboro stated:
"I know yesterday's article about Riot's motion to compel arbitration feels like we're not moving forward. And I have to say for me, it demonstrates we still have work to do. There are pros, cons, and nuances to the discussion of arbitration, especially given the active litigation against Riot. It can be complex, so these types of topics are best discussed live where it's easier to have a conversation. I encourage all of you to ask as many questions in this Thursday's Unplugged, and our promsise to you is we will be as transparent as we possibly can."
What is Forced Arbitration?
Forced arbitration is a practice common among tech companies, startups, and finance-sector businesses. The #MeToo movement has pushed back against this practice because it prevents workers from achieving a fair trial. Statistically, less than one-in-four employees win a privately arbitrated case.
The study further notes:
"The results provide strong evidence of a repeat employer effect in which employee win rates and award amounts are significantly lower where the employer is involved in multiple arbitration cases which could be explained by various advantages accruing to larger organizations with considerably more resources and expertise in dispute resolution procedures."
According to a landmark Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study, repeat players made up 84 percent of arbitration filings. Consumers win only 20 percent of the time — and only 11 percent of the time when facing a repeat player.
Forced arbitration for gender discrimination and sexual harassment cases is under heavy regulatory scrutiny from Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), who leads the charge, championing #EndForcedArbitration. The organizers of the Google Walkout rallied under this hashtag, publicizing the fact that the details of privately arbitrated cases never see daylight.
Arbitration is not inherently bad. Forced/mandatory arbitration *is* bad.
— Susan Fowler (@susanthesquark) September 8, 2017
Sexual harassment and gender discrimination aren’t the only things that businesses have tried to sweep under the rug using forced arbitration. Bloomberg profiled a case which entailed more than 1,000 pages of transcripts, including an arbitrator allegedly falling asleep on the job.
The worst part of it all? Arbitrators are not bound by federal or state laws or by judicial precedent, a key value of our judicial system to ensure that people are treated equally. Employees in forced arbitration are at the mercy of an unaccountable arbitrator without any legal safeguards.
Why Would Riot Games Do This To Their Employees?
According to a press release provided to CCN, Rosen Saba, LLP Partner Ryan D. Saba said:
“It is obvious that Riot Games does not want these claims presented in a jury trial because the company knows it has done wrong. Instead of being a socially responsible company, the reaction of Riot Games is to further damage these hard working woman by attempting to silence them in a closed-door arbitration proceeding. These women, and many more like them, deserve to be heard and respected.”
“Today’s actions only serve to silence the voices of individuals who speak out against such misconduct and demonstrate that the company’s words were no more than lip service.”
We have reached out to Riot Games for comment, but they have not yet responded.
How Can Riot Atone for This Scandal?
The path to resolution is simple: Strike out the mandatory arbitration clauses from current employee contracts along with those of new hires. If the provision no longer exists, companies can be held accountable for their actions.
To listen, we have to be quiet. You haven’t heard from us, because we’re focused on listening and supporting internally. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll share the immediate and long-term actions we’re taking to enact real change for women at Riot.
— Riot Games (@riotgames) August 11, 2018
If you’re interested in helping resolve this issue at the source, Riot Games is hiring a Senior Employment Counsel (Litigation)
Riot. Make this right. Set an example for other companies to follow.
The public court documents are listed below:
Mccracken Et Al v Riot Game... by on Scribd