League of Legends Developer Riot Games has been accused by California regulators that the game maker has failed to properly educate its employees about their rights to participate in an ongoing investigation and lawsuit against the company. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which also filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in July, released a statement on Monday (PDF) states that Riot delayed educating its employees about their rights by two months.
Riot was ordered to send a notice to its staff on June 4th – to issue a memo that “advised”.[d] Workers’ right to freely speak to the government about unlawful practices in the workplace without fear of retaliation, regardless of confidentiality or settlement agreements. DFEH asked the court for Riot to educate its employees about their rights after the government agency acquired a number of settlement agreements in the past.
The DFEH said in the press release it was “c oncerned about the language in Riot’s settlement and severance agreements, which suggested employees could not voluntarily and openly speak to the government about sexual harassment and other violations.” It also said there was language suggesting that workers could not get any relief – money – from the lawsuit.
“Agreements that seek to discourage individuals from filing a complaint or assisting in a DFEH case violate the anti-retaliation and anti-interference provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act,” said DFEH Director Kevin Kish. “Employers cannot impose penalties on anyone who engages in activities protected under the laws enforced by the DFEH. The very existence of such agreements has a dissuasive effect on the willingness of individuals to provide information that may be relevant to the DFEH in order to advance the public interest in eliminating unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace. “
In 2018, a Kotaku investigation into Riot found that the company promoted a “culture of sexism” in which marginalized employees were exposed to sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. In 2019, Riot was convicted of paying “at least $ 10 million” to women who worked for the company in the past five years for violating California’s Equal Pay Act. That DFEH has filed its own lawsuit
The DFEH filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard months later in July after a two-year investigation into the company and its subsidiaries. Marginalized workers described the workplace as a “pervasive lad culture” that perpetuated widespread sexism. Activision Blizzard employees have since posted an open letter to Activision Blizzard executives and left their jobs in July to support the lawsuit and those who came forward. In the weeks since the first lawsuit, more and more employees – as well as developers from the video game industry – have spoken out about their experiences in the company.
Riot Games has not responded to Polygon’s request for comment at the time of publication. A riot spokesman told The Rand “Notices are sent to former employees to confirm that Riot’s severance pay agreements never forbade speaking to government agencies.”