Riot Games is being accused by a US government agency of having entered into illegal agreements to keep its employees and former employees from talking about harmful practices and abuses in the workplace.
The accusation was made in a letter released on Monday (16) by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), a US government agency responsible for protecting civil rights such as employment and housing.
The DFEH has filed an application for the Los Angeles Superior Court to compel Riot to notify its employees of their right to speak with the DFEH. The organization explains that the notice will advise workers on their right to speak freely with the government about illegal workplace practices, without fear of retaliation.
“Agreements that attempt to prevent individuals from filing a complaint or assisting in a DFEH process conflict with anti-retaliation and anti-interference provisions,” said Kevin Kish, director of the DFEH.
The organization’s letter states that the agreements that Riot entered into with employees have a “scary effect on individuals’ willingness to present information that may be important to DFEH, which seeks to promote the public interest in eliminating discrimination and harassment in the job”.
The negotiations of the developer of games such as League of Legends (LoL) would have been made with about 100 female employees, who would have given up talking about the cases of harassment and other violations they suffered.
The accusations against Riot Games emerged in 2018 in an article by journalist Cecilia D’Anastasio, At the time on Kotaku. The report showed that the developer had an extremely sexist culture, as many female employees were treated unfairly and were at a disadvantage compared to men.
In addition to the problems with females, the revelations showed that males were also affected. In one case, an employee said he constantly had his genitals squeezed by a senior leader.
The scandal prompted Riot to commit to changing domestic policy and establishing new rules to change the toxic environment. The brand even reached an agreement with the employees who suffered the abuse. It was precisely these agreements that were labeled illegal by the DFEH, as they supposedly forced officials to stop talking about the cases.
In an email sent to The Verge website yesterday (16), a spokesperson for Riot Games said that “notices are being sent to former employees to confirm that Riot’s termination agreements have never in any way prohibited talking to government agencies” .
A company spokesperson even uploaded a screenshot showing a possible excerpt of the employee agreement that read: “Nothing in this agreement prohibits you from reporting potential violations of federal or state laws or regulations to any agency or government entity”.