These are bad times for popular game developer Riot Games. The company is being investigated after allegations of discrimination and intimidation.
Riot Games, developer of the immensely popular online computer game League of Legends, is currently being scrutinized by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing after a report appeared last year that the game studio is alleged to have been guilty of gender discrimination and cross-border behavior. A few weeks ago, the situation already caused more than 150 employees to organize a so-called ‘walkout’.
The news that the Department of Fair Employment and Housing has been investigating the game developer for quite some time comes as a surprise, since no information has been leaked so far. The department investigates cases of unequal pay, sexual harassment, assault, revenge and gender discrimination regarding promotions within the company. They do this as a result of an article that appeared on Kotaku last August .
However, according to the DFEH, Riot would not cooperate in the investigation without struggling and the department is considering bringing a case against the developer so that they can complete their work in a timely manner. DFEH specifically seeks out the company’s wage information to see if they are actually paying women less for performing the same functions. Riot Games, however, contradicts the fact that the company is not cooperating and claims to have active discussions with DFEH and to cooperate in the investigation, for example by having passed on more than 2500 pages of wage information. The studio goes even further and says that the DFEH was just not available for consultation.
Anyway, it is clear that changes are needed at Riot. At the end of May 150 employees were already walking outside because they disagreed with the way they work. For example, Riot would have required two female employees to conduct private arbitration, a system that does not involve a jury or judge and the decision on a case is taken by appointed individuals. That way, Riot would not have to answer for a judicial authority. Arbitration also means that employees are less likely to start a complaint against their company and mandatory arbitration is often part of the contract. In the past, many companies, including Google, Facebook and Uber, abolished this approach in the case of sexual harassment, but this was not the case with Riot Games.