An arbitration agreement is a contract between an employer and an employee that requires disputes between the two parties to be resolved through arbitration. This type of agreement is enforceable in California as long as it is entered voluntarily and does not violate state or federal laws.
Arbitration agreements can be beneficial to both employers and employees. For employers, arbitration can save time and money that would otherwise be spent on litigation. It can also provide a more efficient way to resolve disputes. For employees, arbitration can be faster and less expensive than court. Additionally, arbitration may allow for more privacy than a public court proceeding.
If you are considering signing an arbitration agreement or have already signed one, it is important to understand your rights and what you agree to.
The arbitration process
Arbitration is when an independent third party, called an arbitrator, hears both sides of a dispute and makes a binding decision. In California, arbitration agreements are common in employment contracts.
The arbitration process typically begins with filing a claim by one party against the other. The claim is then served on the other party, who has a certain amount of time to respond. Once both parties have submitted their evidence and arguments, the arbitrator will hold a hearing. After considering all of the evidence and arguments, the arbitrator will issue a written decision, which is binding on both parties.
Why do employers require employees to sign arbitration agreements?
There are many reasons why employers may require employees to sign arbitration agreements. For one, arbitration can be a cheaper and faster way to resolve disputes than going to court. Additionally, arbitration can provide more privacy than court, as the proceedings are not on public record. Finally, employers may feel they will have a better chance of winning their case in arbitration than in court.
Laws governing arbitration agreements in California
Arbitration agreements are governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and state law. In California, arbitration agreements are also subject to the California Arbitration Act (CAA). The CAA applies to any arbitration agreement entered into in California, regardless of whether the parties are located in California. The employment law in California requires that arbitration agreements be in writing and signed by the parties.
The CAA also provides that certain disputes are unsuitable for arbitration, including disputes involving public policy, civil rights, or claims brought under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). If an arbitrator finds a dispute unsuitable for arbitration, the arbitrator must refuse to hear the case and return it to the court system.
Types of claims subject to arbitration
Three main types of claims are typically subject to arbitration in California employment cases:
- Claims to arise under state law, such as discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination.
- Claims to arise under federal law, such as wages and hours.
- Breach of contract claims.
If you have been subjected to workplace discrimination or harassment, you should speak with an experienced attorney who can help you determine whether or not your claim is subject to arbitration.
When is an arbitration agreement enforceable?
An arbitration agreement is only enforceable if it is signed by both the employer and the employee. The agreement must also be fair and reasonable and not contain any provisions that would waive the employee’s right to file a claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). If an arbitration agreement contains such provisions, a court may declare it void and unenforceable.
How do arbitration agreements affect class action lawsuits in California?
Arbitration agreements are designed to streamline the resolution of disputes between an employer and employee. In California, arbitration agreements are typically used to prohibit employees from filing or participating in class action lawsuits against their employers.
Class action lawsuits allow a group of employees with similar claims to band together and file a single lawsuit against their employer. These lawsuits can be costly and time-consuming for both parties. Arbitration agreements help to avoid these types of lawsuits by requiring employees to resolve their disputes individually through arbitration.
In California, arbitration agreements are generally enforceable if they are entered voluntarily and knowingly by both parties. However, there are some situations where an arbitration agreement may not be enforceable, such as if it is deemed unconscionable or violates public policy.
What is AB 51?
AB 51 is a bill recently introduced in the California Legislature that, if enacted, would ban employers from requiring employees to arbitrate employment disputes. This means that employees could bring claims against their employers in court rather than going through arbitration.
Arbitration is often seen as unfair to employees because it is a private process typically biased in favor of employers. Furthermore, arbitration agreements often prevent employees from filing class action lawsuits, which can effectively hold companies accountable for widespread misconduct.
AB 51 would allow employees to file individual or class action lawsuits against their employers in court and would help level the playing field between workers and companies. If you live or work in California, contact your representatives and tell them to support AB 51!
In summary, arbitration agreements are becoming increasingly common in California employment cases, and employers must know the legal requirements when implementing an agreement. Both employers and employees need to understand their rights and responsibilities related to arbitration agreements to make informed decisions about entering such arrangements. Arbitration can provide a faster way of resolving disputes without having to go through lengthy court proceedings, which benefits both parties involved.