Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The court hearing of sexual bias at Niantic takes place tomorrow, but the Pokémon Go company calls for arbitration instead.

The ongoing lawsuit against Pokémon Go developer Niantic continues with another update. The company has asked for the sexual bias class-action lawsuit hearing to move to arbitration and dismiss the jury trial. The suit was filed earlier this year by a former employee who alleged there was evident support of systemic sexism at the company, along with unequal pay versus male colleagues. Another plaintiff amended the suit, providing more claims of sexism at the company. The hearing for the case is scheduled to be held in a Los Angeles courthouse tomorrow (November 21, 2023).

Based on the court documents shown to GamesIndustry.biz, Niantic initially requested on October 12, 2023, that the courts do not go forward with the class-action lawsuit and move to arbitration instead. The company claimed that the plaintiffs agreed to the terms in their offers of employment. Niantic also argued that the plaintiffs’ claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and more would all be covered in the arbitration agreement. The Pokémon Go company added that their attempts to “shoehorn their claims” into a sexual bias dispute is “meritless.”

The plaintiffs rebutted with a response on October 26 that called out Niantic for their continued acts of “silenc[ing] women who speak out about sexual bias” and arguing that the Federal Arbitration Act entitles them to litigate matters that involve a sexual harassment dispute as a collective and class action. They also added that Niantic’s own arbitration agreement stated that claims of sexual harassment, sexual assault or sexual bias were not covered, so the courts should not dismiss their suit.


PokÉMon Go Dev Niantic Asks For Arbitration Ahead Of Hearing 2

Then, on November 9, Niantic responded in a more dire answer back that the issue could be resolved in an arbitration agreement that the plaintiffs signed, that the FAA did not apply to their complaint, and that the court should strike their suit and compel arbitration. Here is a look at the plaintiff’s amended complaint, the pair accuse Niantic of:

  • violating the California Equal Pay Act
  • retaliation, in violation of the California Equal Pay Act
  • discrimination, in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act
  • creating a hostile work environment, in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act
  • failing to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation, in violation of the Fair Employement and Housing Act
  • violating the unfair competition law

The plaintiffs were also pushing for a jury trial and looking for monetary damages, as well as a public injunctive relief to “require Niantic to reckon with the remedy the boys’ club that it has created and maintained for years.” The anonymous women said in previous documents that they tried to resolve the issues through the company’s human resources department but were still retaliated against.

The plaintiffs and their legal team argued that their claims focused on gender discrimination and needed to be heard in court, not behind closed doors. The documents and statements also elaborated on the purpose of their class action lawsuit: “Through their class action, Plaintiffs seek to ensure that the sexual bias complaints of all female employees and women of color at Niantic are taken seriously and addressed.” So far, it looks like the trial will continue as scheduled tomorrow.

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