California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Arbitration Agreements

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Arbitrator Should Decide Whether NY or CA Law Applies

A California court has ruled that an arbitrator (not a judge) should decide on the applicability of California Labor Code Section 925 to a dispute between a law firm partner and his former law firm. Zhang v. Superior Court, 2022 WL 16832570 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022).  This ruling potentially undermines the protections of Labor Code … Continue Reading

November 2022 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted November 2022 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Equal Pay Act Claim Should Not Have Been Dismissed Whistleblower Claim Should Not Have Been Dismissed In Part School District Employee May Have Been Discriminated … Continue Reading

Employer Waived Right To Arbitration By Failing To Timely Pay Arbitration Fees

Espinoza v. Superior Court, 83 Cal. App. 5th 761 (2022) Rosa M. Quincoza Espinoza sued her former employer, Centinela Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre West, LLC, for discrimination and retaliation.  The employer filed a motion to stay the litigation and compel arbitration, invoking the terms of an arbitration agreement that Espinoza had signed.  After the … Continue Reading

EMPLOYMENT ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS REMAIN LEGAL IN CALIFORNIA – AT LEAST FOR NOW!

As we previously reported here, in Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A. v. Bonta, 13 F.4th 766 (9th Cir. 2021), a three member panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals resurrected California Labor Code Section 432.6, which prohibited employers from requiring California employees to agree to arbitrate their employment-related disputes. In a new twist, … Continue Reading

The U.S. Supreme Court Says PAGA Representative Action Waivers Are Enforceable After All

On June 15, 2022, in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, Case No. 20-1573,_ U.S. _ (2022), by an 8-1 majority, the U.S. States Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) preempts the California Supreme Court’s central holding in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal. 4th 348 (2014), that actions brought … Continue Reading

Judge Reduces $137 Million Race Harassment Verdict Against Tesla to $15 Million

A federal court judge pared down last year’s jaw-dropping $137 million damages award against Tesla in a racial bias lawsuit.  As covered previously here, a San Francisco federal court jury awarded $6.9 million in emotional distress damages and $130 million in punitive damages to a Black former elevator operator who worked at Tesla’s Fremont facility … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Advance of Major Ruling on the Arbitrability of PAGA Claims

Last week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, Case No. 20-1573,_ U.S. _ (2022). The case addresses whether the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) requires the enforcement of bilateral arbitration agreements that preclude an employee from bringing claims under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) on a … Continue Reading

Congress Passes Bill Prohibiting Mandatory Arbitration and Class Action Waivers for Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Claims

On February 10, 2022, the Senate passed H. 4445, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act (the “Act”), by a voice vote.  The bill had previously passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 335-97. The White House has indicated President Biden will sign the bill. If enacted, the Act would amend the … Continue Reading

House Passes Bill Barring “Mandatory Arbitration” in Sexual Assault and Harassment Cases

On February 7, 2022, in a 335-97 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill (“Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act”), which would prohibit “mandatory arbitration” in sexual assault and harassment cases arising or accruing on or after the date of enactment.  This bill also invalidates joint, class, or … Continue Reading

House of Cards: What Employers Can Learn From Kevin Spacey’s Alleged Missteps

Kevin Spacey’s legal troubles have taken a costly turn as the production companies behind Netflix’s House of Cards recently asked a California court to confirm an arbitration award of almost $31 million against Spacey for breach of contract. In 2017, eight House of Cards crew members came forward to accuse Spacey of sexual harassment and … Continue Reading

November 2021 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted November 2021 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Ninth Circuit Resurrects California’s Anti-Arbitration Statute In-House Counsel’s Claim For Breach Of Oral Promise Of Contingency Fee Was Barred By Statute Employee Can Proceed With … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Resurrects California’s Anti-Arbitration Statute

Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A. v. Bonta, 13 F.4th 766 (9th Cir. 2021) The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in part a 2020 preliminary injunction issued by a district court and resurrected California Labor Code Section 432.6, the state’s latest attempt to outlaw arbitration in the employment context. As a result, employers in California once again … Continue Reading

Governor Newsom Signs A Slew of New Employment Laws for 2022

As the 2021 legislative season came to a close, Governor Gavin Newsom signed numerous bills into law. From arbitration to workplace safety, these laws will impact employers across the state.  We have summarized the most important ones for you here: Arbitration Arbitration fees will now need to be paid upon receipt of invoice unless the … Continue Reading

San Francisco Jury Hits Tesla with $137 Million Race Harassment Verdict

On Monday afternoon, a San Francisco federal court jury awarded $137 million to a Black former elevator operator who worked at Tesla’s Fremont facility for approximately one year before quitting his employment in 2016. After just four hours of deliberation, the jury awarded Owen Diaz $6.9 million in emotional distress damages and $130 million in punitive … Continue Reading

Non-Severability Clause In Arbitration Agreement Invalidated Entire Agreement

Kec v. Superior Court, 2020 WL 3869721 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020) Nichole Kec brought individual, class and Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims against her employer, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al.  Kec had signed a predispute contractual waiver of class actions and any “other representative action,” including a PAGA claim. The arbitration agreement further … Continue Reading

Federal Court Strikes Down California’s “Request Arbitration, Go to Jail” Law

On January 31, 2020, Chief United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller enjoined California from enforcing AB 51. This new legislation prohibits employers from requiring their employees to sign arbitration agreements.  Last week, the court issued its detailed written opinion explaining the basis for its decision. As we predicted, the Court found that AB 51 is … Continue Reading

Federal Court Blocks “Request Arbitration, Go to Jail” Law in California

As we reported previously [here], Assembly Bill 51, which would impose criminal penalties upon employers seeking to have their employees sign arbitration agreements, has been challenged in federal court.  Today, Chief United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller enjoined the state from enforcing AB 51 indefinitely.  So, employers in California may request that employees and … Continue Reading

California’s “Request Arbitration, Go to Jail” Law is Blocked Until at Least January 10, 2020

As we reported previously, the California legislature recently passed and Gov. Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 51, which would impose criminal penalties upon employers seeking to have their employees sign arbitration agreements – it is in short the “Request Arbitration, Go to Jail” law.  Today, United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller granted a … Continue Reading

California’s Arbitration Ban Challenged in Federal Court

As expected, California’s effort to ban employers from requiring employees and applicants to sign an arbitration agreement has been challenged in federal court.  The lawsuit was filed by a business coalition that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation. AB-51 was signed into law in October along with a constellation of other … Continue Reading

California Enacts a Raft of New Employment Laws

On Thursday, October 10, 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law several new measures that employers will need to comply with by January 1, 2020 and that will generally make it easier for employees to sue their employers.  Specifically: AB 9 extends the statute of limitations period for employees to file claims of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation … Continue Reading

Join Us for a Webinar on Sexual Harassment Claims and Mandatory Arbitration Agreements

I’m delighted to be presenting a webinar on “Sexual Harassment Claims and Mandatory Arbitration Agreements” for the California Lawyers Association from 12:00 to 1:00 pm PDT on Wednesday, April 24. In the wake of the #MeToo Movement, the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements in the context of sexual harassment claims has come under fierce attack … Continue Reading

California Legislature Tries Yet Again to Outlaw Arbitration Agreements…

There they go again!  As we predicted last November, the California legislature is once again trying to outlaw arbitration agreements between employers and employees.  Former Gov. Jerry Brown routinely vetoed similar bills that sought to prohibit arbitration of employment disputes on the anodyne ground that such legislation unquestionably conflicts with and is preempted by federal … Continue Reading

California Has a New Governor – Will it Make Much Difference for Employers?

After Jerry Brown’s second set of 8 years in office (1975-83 and 2011-19), employers now look to Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom for what’s in store for them in the Golden State.  (Although Jerry Brown wasn’t a particularly good friend of employers, he often was the only friend they had in Sacramento, vetoing some of the more … Continue Reading
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