California Legislators Take Another Stab At Preventing Employment Arbitration Agreements
By Sonya Goodwin & Emily Burkhardt Vicente on April 3, 2019
California has long been considered one of the most – if not the most – protective states of employee rights. This continues to ring true, as the legislature has proposed another law aimed at prohibiting employers from requiring employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. In essence, Assembly Bill 51 (AB 51), would prevent employers from requiring their employees to bring all employment related claims, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage and hour claims, in arbitration instead of state or federal court.
If passed, AB 51 also would prohibit employers from threatening, retaliating against, discriminating against, or terminating an employee or refusing to hire a prospective employee who refuses to sign an arbitration agreement. While the law does provide that employees may voluntarily consent to enter into an arbitration agreement, arbitration agreements with “opt-out” provisions or any provision that requires the employee to take affirmative action to avoid waiving his/her right to civil court would also be prohibited under AB 51. If passed, any violation of this law would constitute an unlawful employment practice under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The proposed bill also allows for injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees to a prevailing plaintiff.
Read the rest at Hunton Employment & Labor Perspectives