Companies in California can no longer force workers as a condition of employment to sign away their right to have claims of discrimination, unfair pay or harassment resolved in a court of law as opposed to an arbitrator. There are a few exceptions, but the sweeping effect of AB-51, signed into law by Gov Gavin Newsom, will have a significant impact on the landscape of future employment litigation in California.
As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, mandatory employee arbitration agreements have had chilling effect when it came to worker rights and employer accountability. Not only are arbitration agreements costly for workers, they tend to end more favorably for employers, class action isn’t an option and it’s all confidential. A company could turn a blind eye to something like sexual harassment for years – and victims would never have the benefit of all the claims that came before them. And what if a worker refused to sign the arbitration agreement? They risked being fired – or never hired in the first place.
This is not to say arbitration has no place at all in resolving employer-employee disputes, but not when workers are forced to sign away their rights or risk giving up their job to someone who will. Continue reading