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Riot Games pushes gender discrimination case back towards arbitration

Riot Games is taking its ongoing gender discrimination dispute with former employees out of the courtroom and back into private arbitration after a court granted its motion to compel earlier this week.

Riot Games is taking its ongoing gender discrimination dispute with former employees out of the courtroom and back into private arbitration after a court granted its motion to compel earlier this week.

It's a pivot from previous coverage of the case that saw it headed towards a settlement of $10 million, until California's DFEH stepped in to suggest the amount was too low and the conflict carried on.

In a statement sent out to press, Riot Games argued that a flip back to private arbitration will facilitate a "fair and speedy resolution to these cases." Meanwhile the counsel for the women that filed the class action lawsuit to begin with says in a press release that forcing the case back to arbitration aims to keep those former Riot employees from "fighting together as a group against the company."

Riot Games first attempted to block the class action and push the issues at its core into private arbitration back in 2019, citing clauses in each employee's employment contracts that allowed it to do so. Developers at the studio organized and pushed back against that and the inclusion of arbitration clauses in employment contracts as a whole, eventually forcing Riot to remove the clauses for new employees and triggering a larger promise of accountability and transparency from Riot.

The class action was eventually able to proceed, and the two parties had agreed upon a $10 million settlement before California state agencies stepped in last year and suggested that amount was letting Riot off lightly. Negotiations continued, eventually leading to this week's decision from a California court regarding arbitration.

For its part, Riot Games does say in a statement that it has worked internally to address the concerns brought up by the class action.

"Over the last two-and-a-half years, we’ve established new and updated policies and programs to promote inclusion in day-to-day life at Riot and help rebuild trust, increased diversity in our leadership team and across the company, continued to take action to ensure we are equitable to all Rioters, and established new recruiting and hiring processes to better meet our goals and improve candidate experiences," reads a portion of Riot's statement to press. "While we know we still have work to do, we’re confident in the strides we’ve made towards our ultimate goal of becoming the most inclusive company in gaming."

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