When people are hired to work for a company, they may be required to sign an arbitration agreement. What employees may not know, is that when they sign this document, they are giving up their right to initiate lawsuits involving discrimination, labor violations, sexual harassment claims, and any other type of discrimination. Rather than taking these matters to court, the arbitration agreement requires workers to work the issue out of court using mediation.
In California, and in several other states across the nation, a proposed bill would give employees the choice to refuse to sign the arbitration agreement. Currently, employers can refuse an application or revoke a job offer if the agreement is not signed. If the proposed bill is passed, however, employers would not be able to require employees to sign the document and could not impose restrictions if employees choose not to sign it.
Employers often wish to avoid having workers’ cases go to trial for several reasons. First, a jury is often more sympathetic to workers’ rights and often awards more money than the employee would have received had the case gone to arbitration. Furthermore, some third-party arbitration companies favor on side of the employers who continually choose them to represent their cases. If the company is at fault, these arbitrators may award less money to the employee as a way to ensure repeat business of the companies that hire them.
If you have faced harassment or discrimination in the workplace, you may want to speak to an attorney regarding your legal options and rights.
Source: Vox, “California approves a law that helps sexual harassment survivors sue employers,” Alexia Fernandez Campbell, Aug. 28, 2018.