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Employment law and the question of binding arbitration

The #Metoo movement reminded people that in 2018 sexual harassment is still an issue in the workplace. There is a piece of employment law in California that can limit an employee's ability to file suit against an employer. Included in the documents that new employees sign as part of their employment agreement is an arbitration document that waives their right to sue the employer in the event of sexual harassment, discrimination, labor violations and other issues. Instead, such grievances would go to binding arbitration.

Arbitration is not governed by a judge or a jury nor does the arbitration process have much in the way of government oversight. Studies have shown that workers are less likely to win arbitration cases, and if they do win, they are frequently awarded less money than they might receive in a jury trial. Juries frequently respond favorably to workers and have been shown to side with workers more often and are more likely to award large dollar amounts in verdicts.

A bill passed in the California Legislature would ease the mandatory arbitration document signing for new employees. The U.S.Supreme Court has ruled that these employment agreements requiring arbitration are legal. However, the pending California law would make signing the document voluntary and would make it illegal for employers to rescind job offers if a person refused to sign it. The bill is currently awaiting Governor Brown's signature.

An employee in California who believes he or she may be the victim of discrimination, sexual harassment or other violation of employment law has every right to seek the counsel of an experienced employment law attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can review the circumstances of the situation and advise the client of his or her rights under current law. An attorney can further advise a client as to what legal options are available.

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