Many employers in California require employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements before commencing employment. Despite California laws prohibiting some employers from requiring these agreements, many still require arbitration agreements. Although some of these are lawful, many contain terms that courts find to be unconscionable, or unenforceable because they do not give the employee meaningful choice. However, these agreements often have the effect of deterring employee lawsuits that have merit. Fortunately, tenacious litigants who pursue these claims often find themselves vindicated in California courts, like in a recent employment case.
Facts of the Case
An apprentice electrician brought two separate lawsuits against his employer for unfair practices. Of note, the employee signed an arbitration agreement upon hiring that subjected the employee to binding arbitration for any disputes with the employer. The arbitration agreement included, among other provisions, measures that limited discovery, waived the right to pursue class action lawsuits, and required the complaining employee to pay filing fees and other expenses.
In a previous case, the employee filed a lawsuit against his employer for disability discrimination under the Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA). In the FEHA case, the trial court granted the employer’s motion to compel arbitration after severing “substantively unconscionable” terms from the arbitration agreement.