California’s latest attempt to restrict employment arbitration was foiled by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last Wednesday. On February 15, 2023, a three-judge panel decided that AB 51 (which prohibits employers from “forcing” job applicants or employees to enter into pre-dispute employment arbitration agreements covering certain discrimination and retaliation claims) is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). In doing so, the Ninth Circuit reversed its prior decision in the same case, issued by the same three-judge panel, which partially upheld AB 51 in 2021. While we expect the California Attorney General to challenge the Ninth Circuit’s February 15 decision, California employers can breathe a sigh of relief for now knowing it’s still lawful for most to continue to require arbitration agreements.Continue Reading California Employers Still Can Require Arbitration. For Now.
The new year always brings new challenges for employers, but California employers in particular face a world of change in 2023.
In our 75-minute “quick hits” format, we help you track what California employers need to keep top-of-mind for 2023 and provide practical takeaways to help you navigate the new landscape.
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The U.S. Supreme Court just handed employers a huge win in the continuing war over California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), a bounty-hunter statute that deputizes employees to sue on behalf of the state. In yesterday’s Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, decision, the Supreme Court held that employers may compel employees to arbitrate…
On March 3, President Biden signed the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act,” H.R. 4445, into law. The landmark legislation allows a plaintiff to elect not to arbitrate covered disputes of sexual assault or sexual harassment. To understand the implications of the new law, click here.
President Biden is expected to sign into law landmark #MeToo legislation, which allows a plaintiff to elect not to arbitrate covered disputes of sexual assault or sexual harassment. The “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021,” amends the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), by narrowing its scope and applicability. The bill’s passage had bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.
Historically, some employers have implemented arbitration programs that require both the employer and its employees to arbitrate most or all types of employment claims, including claims alleging sexual harassment or sexual assault. Largely in response to the #MeToo movement, which began in late 2017, some states passed laws designed to prohibit or restrict employers from requiring employees to arbitrate sexual harassment or sexual assault claims. For example, in New York, employers are prohibited from requiring the arbitration of sexual harassment claims except where inconsistent with federal law. New York’s prohibition on mandatory arbitration in relation to sexual harassment claims went into effect on July 11, 2018, and it has applied to contracts entered into on or after that date. New Jersey and California have enacted similar laws. New Jersey’s law prohibits any provision of an arbitration agreement that waives a substantive or procedural right or remedy relating to employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims. This law applies to all contracts and agreements entered into, renewed, modified, or amended on or after March 18, 2019. Further, on October 10, 2019, California enacted a law, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to sign new mandatory arbitration agreements concerning disputes arising under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or California Labor Code. California’s law applies only to agreements dated January 1, 2020 or after. However, courts have found these statutes to be pre-empted by the FAA.
On February 7, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 4445, 335 to 97. Shortly thereafter, on February 10, 2022, the bill passed the Senate in an unrecorded voice vote.Continue Reading Landmark #MeToo Legislation Allows Employees To Pursue Sexual Harassment & Assault Claims In Court, Rather Than Arbitration
On December 30, 2019, Judge Kimberly Mueller in the Eastern District of California issued a temporary restraining order that enjoined California from enforcing AB 51. AB 51 prohibits employers from requiring, as a condition of employment, employees’ waiver of any right, forum, or procedure for an alleged violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act or the California Labor Code. (For more on AB 51, read here).
Continue Reading Stop! In The Name Of The Federal Arbitration Act
Despite the hubbub, a new California law purportedly banning mandatory employment arbitration agreements does not completely change the game, and federal law still allows employers to use such agreements.
On October 10, 2019, Governor Newsom signed AB 51 (to be codified as Cal. Lab. Code § 432.6(c)). The new law on its face prohibits employers from requiring California employees to arbitrate certain employment disputes, even if the employees are given the option of opting out of arbitration. More ominously, AB 51 criminalizes retaliation against employees who refuse arbitration, among other remedies.Continue Reading Slow Your Roll: Federal Law Preempts California’s Latest Assault On Employment Arbitration Agreements
As previously detailed here, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 Epic Systems decision established that requiring employees to waive their right to pursue collective or class actions does not violate the National Labor Relations Act’s “catchall” protection—the right to engage in “concerted activity”—and courts must enforce arbitration agreements as written.
The Supreme Court not only confirmed the legality of class action waivers under the Federal Arbitration Act, but it also narrowly construed the NLRA’s catchall provision as focused on the right to organize unions and bargain collectively in the workplace.
The Court’s holding that the right to engage in such “concerted activities” does not guarantee collective or class action procedures underpins a recent NLRB decision concerning issues of first impression: imposing and requiring as a condition for continued employment a new class action waiver rule in response to collective action.Continue Reading Applying Epic Systems, The NLRB Adopts Employer-Friendly Arbitration Stance
This article was originally published on Law360.com.
Three recent decisions arising under the National Labor Relations Act highlight that ambiguity and inattentiveness are the twin banes of labor and employment attorneys. In all three cases, the dispute arose because two personnel policies or approaches overlapped, opening the way for conflicting claims. As these cases demonstrate,…
In June, a federal district court in New York ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts a recent state law prohibiting mandatory arbitration agreements in sexual harassment cases. Latif v. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC marks the first time that a federal court has ruled on this issue.
Continue Reading NY Ban On Mandatory Arbitration Of Sexual Harassment Claims Overturned