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Riot Games won't change employee policies until litigation ends

People gather at a walkout put on by Riot Games employees on May 6, outside Riot's Santa Monica studio. Employees staged the walkout to express their disagreement with Riot's policy of forced arbitration for sexual discrimination and harassment cases. Photo by Emily Rand

Eleven days after nearly 200 employees of Riot Games staged a walkout over corporate handling of sexual harassment and discrimination cases, the company said it isn't planning to change how it conducts business until a current batch of litigation is settled.

The company and employees are at odds over Riot's motion to push two of the wrongful termination lawsuits it is facing into private arbitration.

"We've taken the time to clearly understand the range of perspectives and opinions related to our arbitration agreement, including those shared over the last three weeks," California-based Riot Games said in a statement posted to its website on Friday. "Ultimately, given the complexities of ongoing litigation, we will not change our employee agreements while in active litigation. We know not everyone agrees with this decision, but we also know everyone does want Riot to continue to improve."

Riot Games, which publishes League of Legends, contends that two of the cases currently being contested should be heard in private arbitration because those women waived their rights to sue the company when they were hired. Instead of a judge or jury deciding a verdict, Riot is seeking to force arbitration, which would keep the public legal spotlight from shining on it.

Last August, allegations about rampant sexism within the company emerged as multiple then-current and former employees described examples of sexism and misogyny at a variety of levels.

In its statement Friday, Riot Games said future employees could have the chance to opt out of arbitration, but not this current group.

"We remain committed to having a firm answer around extending an opt-out to all Rioters when active litigation concludes," the statement read. "Everything we've heard will impact our discussions when we revisit arbitration and we hope to have an answer that will be satisfying to everyone. At a minimum, we will give new Rioters the option to opt out of arbitration on individual sexual harassment claims."

The company also announced the formation of two employee-focused programs to open the dialogue with employees and give them input in future corporate policies, such as its code of conduct.