If you were employed by Riot Games, Inc., either directly (aka “red badge”) or through a contractor (aka “blue badge”), and were subjected to gender-based discrimination, unequal pay, harassment or retaliation, a Los Angeles Superior Court recently issued an important ruling that could affect your rights.
On November 8, 2018, a putative class action lawsuit was filed against Riot Games alleging claims of gender-based discrimination, unequal pay, harassment and retaliation. This lawsuit potentially covers Riot Games’ unlawful conduct dating back to November 8, 2014, and seeks damages for the lost wages and emotional distress suffered by the women of Riot Games. The class action lawsuit also seeks to impose punitive damages against Riot Games and requests injunctive relief to prevent Riot Games from continuing to act unlawfully.
There were efforts to settle the women’s claims, but those efforts were not successful. This means there currently is no settlement of the case.
Because there is no settlement, Riot chose to file motions with the Court to force the women to present their cases on an individual basis (rather than as a group or class) before a private arbitrator. Riot Games’ motions to compel arbitration sought to deprive the women of Riot of their right to act as a group and prevent their claims from being heard by a jury of their peers. To be clear, Riot did not have to file these motions and could have chosen to allow the women to continue their case in Court, together as a group. Instead, Riot chose to enforce its forced arbitration agreements and class action waivers against its women employees.
On January 25, 2021, the Court ordered 6 of the 7 women who have spearheaded this fight for justice to have their claims heard in arbitration. One plaintiff, Gabriela Downie, was not compelled to arbitration because she did not sign an arbitration agreement. As a result, she is able to continue to pursue her claims and the claims on behalf of the class.
However, the Court’s rulings on Riots’ motions to compel arbitration are an indication that the Court may require every woman employee who signed an arbitration agreement with Riot to pursue her claims before a private arbitrator. This means that if you are a woman who worked for Riot (as a red or blue badge employee) and you signed an arbitration agreement, you will probably have to file your own individual arbitration case if you want to pursue your individual claims.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing will also continue to litigate its pattern and practice case against Riot, and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement will continue to litigate its case for Labor Code penalties against Riot, both of which cases are also to benefit the women of Riot.
As each woman’s case is unique and the Court’s recent ruling involves many complex legal issues, it is imperative that any woman employed by Riot Games from November 2014 to the present immediately seek legal advice regarding protecting her rights.
If you have questions about the status of the putative class action, the possible impact of the recent Court ruling and/or your right to assert claims against Riot Games, the Genie Harrison Law Firm and JML Law, who are the attorneys representing the women bringing the case against Riot, are available to answer your questions.