What Issues Can An Employer Require An Employee to Arbitrate?

Many Orange County business owners require that employees sign arbitration agreements at the outset of their employment. These agreements state that in the case an employment claim arises, the employer and employee agree to avoid court and head to arbitration to resolve the issue. While certain kinds of claims (such as workers’ compensation claims) must be excluded from agreements that require arbitration, as an arbitration agreement will not be enforced in California if it is both “procedurally unconscionable” and “substantively unconscionable”, both federal and California public policy favor arbitration as a form of alternative dispute resolution.

Arbitration is generally supposed to be faster, cheaper, and more predictable than litigation. Benefits many Orange County business owners appreciate. However, in a recent case involving homebuilder D.R. Horton, none of these expectations came true. In its arbitration agreement, D.R. Horton prevented employees from suing in court and from bringing class-action claims in arbitration. A disgruntled employee took issue to this, bringing his fight to the National Labor Relations Board. Along with a class of similarly-situated employees, he sought alleged unpaid overtime wages.

California’s Fair Pay Act & Gender Equality

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that will make it more and more challenging for California employers to discriminate against women because of their gender when it comes to compensation. The California Fair Pay Act is said to be the nation’s most aggressive equal pay law and becomes effective January 1, 2016.

Generally speaking, women in California make 84% of what men make and some of the state’s biggest industries have even larger pay disparities. In Silicon Valley, for example, men with Bachelor’s Degrees make 40% than women with the same education, and men with a graduate or professional degree make 73% more. The tech industry is not alone when it comes to unequal pay for men and women. If you believe that your employer is paying you less because you are a woman, the law is on your side. Contact an experienced Orange County employment attorney to discuss your legal rights.