Arbitration Agreements

On October 10, 2023, California Governor Newsom signed into law S.B. 365, a bill that amends California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1294. The new law provides that when a party appeals an order denying a motion to compel arbitration (an order which is immediately appealable), the trial court is not obligated to stay the action during the pendency of the appeal. The law marks a major shift in California civil procedure law.Continue Reading New California Law Prohibits Automatic Stay of Trial Court Action When Appealing Denial of a Motion to Compel Arbitration

On April 19, 2023, the California Court of Appeal held that an employer’s arbitration agreement was unenforceable because of unconscionable terms found in other documents provided to employees during the onboarding process. The decision was certified for publication on May 10, 2023. In Alberto v. Cambrian Homecare (Apr. 19, 2023, No. B314192) ___Cal.App.5th, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision that a standalone arbitration agreement was unconscionable based on terms contained within the employer’s confidentiality agreement. Because the arbitration and confidentiality agreements were presented to the employee at the time of hire and related to the employee’s employment, the Court found that the employer’s confidentiality agreement was part of the “contract” to arbitrate, and the two agreements must be read together. The Court then reasoned that unconscionable terms in the confidentiality agreement permeated the arbitration agreement rendering it unenforceable. The Alberto decision is an important development for employers utilizing arbitration agreements along with other types of employment-related agreements as it creates a new risk of losing the benefits of arbitration.Continue Reading It Is Time to Check Your Onboarding Documents – Employer’s Confidentiality Agreement Renders Its Arbitration Agreement Unenforceable

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel that originally decided Chamber of Commerce v. Bonta last fall recently issued an order withdrawing its prior opinion and granting a panel rehearing. The divided panel’s original decision upheld portions of Assembly Bill 51 (“AB 51”), a California law that prohibits employers from requiring that employees sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment. The panel’s decision to rehear the appeal is notable because it suggests that the panel may rule that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) preempts AB 51 in its entirety following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana. The Supreme Court in Viking River Cruises held that California law precluding the division of PAGA actions into individual and non-individual claims through an agreement to arbitrate was preempted by the FAA.Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Grants Rehearing on California Law Banning Mandatory Employment Arbitration Agreements

On June 6, 2022, a unanimous United States Supreme Court issued another key decision interpreting the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) that will have a significant impact on certain employers going

Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Rules Certain Airline Employees Exempt From Federal Arbitration Act

As anticipated, on March 3, 2022, President Biden signed The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4445). The law takes effect immediately.

As explained in our prior blog, in a rare display of bipartisanship, on February 7, 2022, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved H.R. 4445 by a vote of 335 to 97. A few days later, on February 10, 2022, the Senate passed H.R. 4445, without amendment, by voice vote.Continue Reading UPDATE: President Biden Signs Bipartisan Bill to End Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Harassment and Assault Claims in the Workplace

In a rare display of bipartisanship, Congress recently passed a new law that is poised to eliminate pre-dispute mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment and sexual assault disputes.
Continue Reading Congress Passes Bipartisan Bill to End Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Harassment and Assault Claims in the Workplace

A divided Ninth Circuit panel dealt a blow to California employers recently in holding that a state law prohibiting mandatory arbitration agreements is largely not preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”).  California employers often have employees enter into such mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Upholds in Part California’s Ban on Mandatory Arbitration

In Garcia v. Haralambos Beverage Co., the California Court of Appeal embraced the adage “time kills all deals” to conclude that an employer waived its right to arbitrate the wage-hour claims at issue in the case by, among other things, delaying two years to seek arbitration as a last resort and waiting to locate the plaintiffs’ signed arbitration agreements.  By waiving its right to arbitrate, the employer also lost its ability to strike class claims as a result.
Continue Reading Delaying Enforcement of Arbitration Agreements May Lead to Undesirable Consequences

On September 18 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB-5, which codified the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex v. Superior Court decision.  In Dynamex, the California Supreme Court adopted the so-called “ABC” test to determine coverage under the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Orders.  AB-5 expands the application of the ABC test to the entire California Labor Code and will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Continue Reading It’s Official: Newsom Expands The Definition of “Employee” Under California Law

Following the launch of the so-called “MeToo” movement, the California Legislature (controlled by a Democratic supermajority) has aggressively churned out new bills that further strengthen the ability for workers to sue their employers and increase the already-significant regulatory burden on these companies. This fall, the California Legislature is geared to send three significant bills to Governor Gavin Newsom that all California employers should carefully follow.
Continue Reading Three Major Workplace Bills to Land on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Desk