SACRAMENTO–California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher won final legislative approval of her bill to end forced arbitration contracts that workers have been forced to sign as a condition of employment.
The bill will now be sent to Governor Brown’s desk to be signed into law or vetoed over the next month.
Assembly Bill 3080, a Women’s Caucus Priority Bill, will help victims of sexual harassment seek justice by prohibiting California employers from requiring prospective hires to sign one-sided arbitration agreements that keep workers from standing up for their rights at the workplace.
“We know that workers across California constantly experience sexual harassment, wage theft, and other abuses in the workplace and that these abuses are often never brought to justice because employees are forced into secret and one-sided mandatory arbitration agreements at the time they are hired,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “Our bill, AB 3080, ensures that no worker is forced to give up their rights as a condition of employment.”
Forced arbitration agreements have become a common tool for employers who seek to prevent employees from filing a lawsuit or filing a complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Employees who sign these unfair and exploitative agreements are forced into an arbitration process that allows employers to hear disputes in private.
Arbitration processes rarely result in justice for the worker and often any settlements reached require the victim to refrain from discussing the abuse publicly.
Assembly Bill 3080 will ensure that a person is not required as a condition of employment to waive their right to take worker protection claims to a court or a state agency, that a person is not prevented from disclosing to any other person instances of sexual harassment, and that a person cannot be threatened, retaliated or discriminated against for refusing to sign an arbitration agreement.
The State Assembly passed AB 3080 by a 47-25 vote in May and today, the State Senate passed it with a vote of 25-12. Governor Brown is expected to sign or veto the proposal by the end of September.