Riot seeks individual arbitration for gender discrimination lawsuit

Lawyers from both parties will meet in court today.

Image via Riot Games

Riot Games and female employees alleging gender discrimination and sexual harassment are once again meeting in Los Angeles court today.

The hearing will determine whether previous settlement discussions reached in 2019 waived the plaintiffs’ arbitration agreements in their employee contracts, which would allow a private judge to make the decision. Because Riot and the plaintiffs agreed to settle, any arbitration agreements wouldn’t apply anymore.

Image via Riot Games

If Riot is successful in enforcing its mandatory arbitration clause, a private judge would resolve the suit and both parties would be forced to respect their decision. The plaintiffs want to avoid arbitration and keep the pay equity claims in court so they can fight collectively, rather than be forced to individually take on the company.

The League of Legends developer initially agreed to a $10 million settlement with the plaintiffs, who accused Riot of denying women equal pay and stifling their careers in a November 2018 class-action suit. But the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) believed that number was too low, suggesting the female employees deserve upwards of $400 million. Riot deemed that sum to be “bogus” and said the evaluation was not “grounded in fact.”

“Now that Riot knows it can’t settle the case on the cheap, it wants to force Riot women into arbitration, preventing the women from fighting together as a group against the company,” plaintiffs’ counsel Genie Harrison said. “If Riot succeeds, it will pay a private judge huge amounts of money to decide the fate of the women’s claims. And all that will happen in secret, with Riot’s discriminatory conduct hidden from the public.” 

Today’s arbitration proceedings are only for a “few individual plaintiffs” and “doesn’t have impact on the class or state agency claims,” a Riot spokesperson told Dot Esports.

The Los Angeles court is now in session.