Update: Riot Games has confirmed that the dispute pertains to former employees at the company.
"Notices are being sent to former employees to confirm that Riot’s severance agreements have never in any way prohibited speaking to government agencies," said a spokesperson for Riot Games.
"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 (predating Kotaku's original reporting and any involvement from the DFEH). 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 recognised that Riot has always maintained that our agreements allow people to make government complaints."
Riot Games plans to file its response through the courts later today.
Original story: California’s Department of Fair Housing and Employment has alleged that Riot Games has misled employees regarding their rights to participate in the ongoing lawsuit and investigation into the company.
The DFEH shared a statement that Riot Games has delayed the progress of the investigation by not issuing a notice to employees about their rights to discuss the issues they have faced with government officials. The notice is required to inform staff of their rights to speak freely about workplace malpractice, without fear of retaliation and regardless of non-disclosure terms in their settlement agreements.
In the statement, the DFEH requested that the Los Angeles Superior Court urge compliance from Riot to produce and distribute the notice to staff, which was originally required on June 4th, 2021.
The DFEH filed its own lawsuit against Riot in February this year.
A company-wide investigation of sexual harassment, discrimination and assault at Riot Games was launched by the US government in 2018. In 2019, Riot revealed that it had reached "secret settlement agreements" with approximately 100 female employees regarding their claims and rights, without notice of the government’s actions.
The DFEH was said to be "alarmed" by language in the settlement and separation agreements that "suggested employees could not voluntarily and candidly speak with the government about sexual harassment and other violations".
"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 of the Fair Employment and Housing Act," said 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 are the same government body that is suing Activision Blizzard following a two-year investigation into sexual discrimination and harassment that alleges a "pervasive frat boy workplace culture" at the firm.