California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Arbitration Agreements

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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

Another Gargantuan California Verdict… This Time for $18.6 Million

A San Diego jury awarded that amount to a former employee who claimed he was wrongfully terminated based on his arrest record and then defamed. Michael Tilkey worked for Allstate Insurance for 30 years and was fired from his job as a field sales leader after he admitted to Allstate that he was arrested for domestic violence … Continue Reading

Another Day, Another $31 Million Employee Verdict From a Los Angeles Jury

On Tuesday, a Los Angeles jury did what L.A. juries do so often these days — they awarded tens of millions of dollars to an ex-employee who claimed she had been the victim of discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation.  Codie Rael, who worked as a materials buyer for a dental supply company, claimed that she … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Employers in Upholding Arbitration Agreements Containing Class Action Waivers

On May 21, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis that employers can require employees to arbitrate disputes with the employer individually and waive their right to pursue or participate in class or collective actions against their employer. Ruling 5-4 in favor of an employer’s right to … Continue Reading

Los Angeles Jury Awards $17.4 Million to Sanitation Bureau Employee

Continuing an alarming recent pattern of multi-million dollar jury awards (see our earlier post), a Los Angeles jury panel recently awarded $17.4 million to a former employee of the Bureau of Sanitation.  The employee claimed he had been retaliated against because he had taken part in “protected activities” and because he had filed a complaint … Continue Reading

It’s Time to Think About Arbitration Agreements Again Following Recent $15 Million+ Employee Verdicts

Jury panels in the Los Angeles Superior Court (which is often referred to as “The Bank” by the plaintiffs’ bar) have recently delivered multimillion-dollar verdicts to former-employee plaintiffs.  Many employers doing business in California already have insulated themselves from such disasters by adopting comprehensive arbitration regimes, which would require that such cases be heard by a retired … Continue Reading

Chapter 11 Automatic Stay Applies To PAGA Claims

Porter v. Nabors Drilling USA, LP, 2017 WL 1404392 (9th Cir. 2017) Jeremy Porter, a former employee of Nabors Drilling, filed a complaint alleging various claims against Nabors, including a claim arising under the Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”). After removing the action to federal court, Nabors moved to compel arbitration of all of Porter’s … Continue Reading

FAQ About California’s New Law on Venue and Choice of Law in Employment Agreements

We recently blogged about Governor Brown signing S.B. 1241, which is now codified as Section 925 of the California Labor Code. The law, which affects venue and choice of law provisions in agreements entered into as a condition of employment, will begin applying to agreements entered into, modified, or extended beginning on January 1, 2017. … Continue Reading

California Protects Employees’ Rights to Have Their Claims Heard in the State, Under California Law

In recent years, some employers doing business in the Golden State have required their employees to sign arbitration and employment agreements that require the employee to sue or arbitrate in – or under the law of – another state.  After January 1, 2017, this practice will be illegal unless the employee was represented by legal … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Employer’s Class Action Waiver

Morris v. Ernst & Young, LLP, 2016 WL 4433080 (9th Cir. 2016) As a condition of employment, Stephen Morris and Kelly McDaniel were required to sign agreements not to join with other employees in bringing legal claims via arbitration against their employer. Morris and McDaniel filed a class and collective action against the company, alleging … Continue Reading
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