Discrimination class-action lawsuit against Riot proceeds in spite of Riot’s arbitration success

Well well well, how the turntable.

In the summer of 2018, which seems like an eternity ago now, Kotaku published a massive expose of Riot Games’ “culture of sexism,” the poor corporate response to which ultimately triggered an employee walkout, multiple lawsuits, and a story about how a VP who repeatedly grabbed subordinates’ balls was punished with only unpaid leave over Christmas, which is an anecdote I am still putting into this story in 2021 because what the actual hell, Riot Games.

Anyhow, there’s been some new movement on the scandal as Riot’s pushed to move the class-action discrimination lawsuit back into arbitration. Again. Readers will recall that the employee walkout was largely a result of pushback against Riot’s contract arbitration clause and its subsequent refusal to allow current employees to opt-out of mandatory arbitration (in short, waiving their right to sue in an impartial state court).

Readers will also recall that the discrimination lawsuit was supposed to have been on the brink of settlement at the end of 2019, as Riot was slated to pay out $10M to the plaintiffs. But at the beginning of 2020, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) intervened, arguing that $10M was a pittance from a company worth over $20B. The plaintiffs withdrew the settlement agreement and obtained new counsel: high-profile discrimination attorney Genie Harrison.

That brings us to 2021, when the suit is back in court again. Earlier this week, the LA court sent some of the claims back to arbitration all over again, with the exception of the equal pay statutory claims and the exception of the single plaintiff who never signed an arbitration agreement in the first place. The court ruled she can “litigate all of her claims in court on behalf of herself and the class.” And apparently, the group will be doing just that.

In case you somehow missed the whole sorry saga:

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