LOS ANGELES, Aug. 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — California’s state senate last week passed a state assembly bill that will prevent employers from forcing workers to sign mandatory arbitration clauses as a condition of employment.
The bill, known as AB 3080, comes as an urgent response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In May, the Court ruled that companies can force employees to sign a class-action lawsuit waiver that sends any such disputes to private arbitration instead. This ruling effectively stripped workers nationwide of their access to class-action lawsuits when it comes to workplace disputes, as it is widely expected that most non-unionized companies nationwide will force new hires and even existing employees to sign these waivers, which significantly limit an employer’s exposure to legal liability.
This poses a significant threat to the welfare, safety, and prosperity of workers, as class-action lawsuits are often the only effective means of recourse against an employer who is mistreating their employees or engaging in illegal activities.
Carney Shegerian, the head of Los Angeles employment law firm Shegerian & Associates, noted that the Supreme Court ruling ignores this fact.
“Class-action lawsuits are sometimes the only mechanism an ordinary person has against a company that’s breaking the law,” Shegerian said. “The majority on the Supreme Court made this ruling because they’d rather the law be friendly to businesses than hold those businesses accountable for breaking the law.”
Shegerian continued, “That ruling is essentially a giveaway to the rich, one that comes on the backs of workers who are suffering illegal treatment on the job—like sexual harassment, for example. That’s why the state legislature passed this new bill so quickly.”
AB 3080 arose from the #MeToo movement, because one of the common consequences of private arbitration is that it allows sexual misconduct to be hidden, so that other workers, clients, and customers at a company won’t know that a given employee is actually a sexual predator.
“We are at a time in this country when these age-old workplace abuses are finally coming into the light,” Shegerian said, “and of course it’s drawing a backlash from the rich and powerful, and their supporters on the Supreme Court. Fortunately, ordinary workers and their families also have a voice in the government, as AB 3080 shows.”
AB 3080 also attempts to protect itself from the inevitable legal challenges against it by allowing employees to sign the class-action waivers if they want to. Previous efforts in California to outlaw the waivers altogether failed, in large part because it was expected that such a law would be preempted either by federal law or by the Supreme Court. By allowing workers to sign the waivers voluntarily, there is no restriction of their rights either way.
The bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for final signature.
Headquartered in Santa Monica, California and with offices in San Diego, San Francisco, & New York, Shegerian & Associates is a law firm specializing in protecting the rights of employees who have been wronged by their employers. Carney Shegerian, Trial Lawyer of the Year Award winner for 2013, has won 80 jury trials in his career, including 37 seven-figure verdicts. Shegerian & Associates is passionately dedicated to serving the needs of its clients. For more information about the firm, visit www.ShegerianLaw.com.
Media Contact: To arrange interviews with Carney Shegerian employment law matters, please contact media@ShegerianLaw.com
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