California DFEH asks court to compel Riot Games to send notice of employee rights

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Update 8/16/2021: This article has been updated to include Riot Games response to part of the Press Release.

"Notices are being sent to former employees to confirm that Riot’s severance agreements have never in any way prohibited speaking to government agencies. Riot has never and will never retaliate against anyone for talking to any government agency. In fact, our standard severance agreement has included the following language for many years.

The court went out of its way to say sending these notices in no way indicates any judgement against Riot on the DFEH allegations, and the judge recognized that Riot has always maintained that our agreements allow people to make government complaints."


Original Article:

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing asked the Los Angeles Superior Court for a court order on Monday to compel Riot Games to send notice to all of their employees about their right to speak with the government.


According to the press release, Riot Games was Court-ordered two months ago on June 4th to send such a notice after the DFEH argued Riot Games had allegedly "secret agreements" that suggested employees were not allowed to speak with the government.


Riot explained in a statement to Inven Global that "while the judge agreed to riot sending a clarification. . . they disagree that there was anything inappropriate with our agreements." Riot also clarified that there was nothing secret about the agreements, despite the DFEH referring to them as "secret settlement agreements."


"Riot has delayed issuance for two months of notice to workers about their right to speak about sexual harassment and other unlawful workplace practices," the California government alleged in the press release.


The notice that the DFEH is requesting would advise all Riot workers of their right to speak with the DFEH about unlawful workplace practices without fear of retaliation from Riot, even if they are under non-disparagement or non-disclosure agreements.


"Agreements that attempt to bar Individuals from filing a complaint or assisting in a DFEH case run afoul of the anti-retaliation and anti-interference provisions in the Fair Employment and Housing Act," explained DFEH Director Kevin Kish. "Employers cannot impose a penalty on people who engage in protected activity under statutes enforced by DFEH. The very existence of such agreements has a chilling effect on the willingness of individuals to come forward with information that may be of importance to the DFEH as it seeks to advance the public interest in the elimination of unlawful employment discrimination and harassment."


The DFEH alleged that despite a Court ordering Riot to provide secret settlements to the DFEH in January of 2021, Riot delayed that action until April of 2021. According to the DFEH, the agreements they did receive contains "alarming language" that suggested "employees could not voluntarily or candidly speak with the government about sexual harassment and other violations." This language prompted another court order for Riot to issue a corrective notice specifying that employees can indeed speak with the government. Riot has now delayed that notice for two months, leading to Monday's request to compel them to send the notice.


According to the press release, the notice in question would inform workers that they "may freely cooperate, participate, and obtain potential relief if awarded" and that "Riot Games cannot retaliate or take any adverse action against employees for speaking with the DFEH, participating in the DFEH pending action, or obtaining potential relief in such an action."


Finally, the notice would inform employees that "Riot Games cannot require [any worker] to either notify the company or obtain permission before speaking with the DFEH" and that it remains "unlawful for [any] employe to retlatiate against [workers] for speaking to the government or otherwise voluntarily participating or cooperating in government proceedings." 


Find the full press release here.

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